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J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 1998 Feb;11(2):201-5.

Transesophageal ultrasonographic imaging in rat hearts: visualization of aortic valve vegetations in non-bacterial thrombotic endocarditis.

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Department of Medicine II, Mainz University, Germany.


The aim of this study was to test the feasibility of transesophageal ultrasonography in rats by using an intravascular ultrasound system for visualization of vegetations at the aortic valve in the animal model of experimental endocarditis. After anesthesia and preparation of the right carotid artery, a polyethylene catheter was advanced across the aortic valve into the left ventricle in 91 rats. For transesophageal ultrasonography an intravascular ultrasound catheter (3.5 French; 30 MHz) linked to an imaging system was introduced into the esophagus. Sonographic investigations were performed every 24 hours until death. The presence, size, and echogenicity of vegetations were evaluated. Presence and size were compared to autopsy findings. No complications occurred as a result of the sonographic investigation. Left-sided valvular structures were imaged regularly. For detection of vegetations, sensitivity and specificity were 93% and 88%, respectively. Comparing the measurements of the vegetation size the following regression equation was obtained: y = 0.74x + 0.04 (r = 0.89; standard error of estimate = 0.02 cm). Inter- and intraobserver variabilities for sonographic measurements were 8.3% and 6.2%, respectively. Transesophageal ultrasonography permits reliable detection and repetitive accurate quantification of vegetations in the rat model of endocarditis. The technique enhances longitudinal studies of the dynamic process of the growth of vegetations under defined microbial conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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