The Role of Transesophageal Echocardiography in Identifying Anomalous Coronary Arteries

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The study objective was to evaluate the role of transesophageal echocardiography in identifying the origin of anomalous coronary arteries and confirming their course in relation to the great vessels. The diagnosis of coronary anomalies is made by angiography. The anomalous left main artery with a course between the pulmonary artery and the aorta has been associated with myocardial infarction and sudden death. The course of these anomalous coronary arteries is difficult to demonstrate by angiography alone.

Methods and Results.

Nine patients with angiographically confirmed anomalous coronary arteries were studied by transesophageal echocardiography with color flow Doppler. The abnormal origin of the anomalous coronary arteries was confirmed by transesophageal echocardiography in all nine patients. In four patients, the left main coronary artery originated from the right sinus of Valsalva. In all of these patients, transesophageal echocardiography demonstrated the course of the anomalous left main coronary artery between the aorta and pulmonary artery better than angiography. Other anomalies that were visualized included two patients with origin of the right coronary arteries from the left aortic sinus, one patient with origin of the left anterior descending from the right sinus, one patient with origin of circumflex from the right sinus, and one patient with origin of the left main coronary artery from the pulmonary artery.


Transesophageal echocardiography is a useful noninvasive test for diagnosing anomalous origin of the coronary arteries. Furthermore, it is a valuable adjunct to angiography in demonstrating the abnormal course of the left main coronary artery interposed between the aorta and the pulmonary artery, a potentially life-threatening entity. (Circulation.1993;88:2532–2540.)

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