Who Uses Transesophageal Echocardiography in the Operating Room?

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A survey was made of 155 anesthesiology residency programs in the United States to determine the patterns of use, responsibility for interpretation, and training of those responsible for intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE).Survey questions included numbers and types of cases for which TEE is used, who interprets TEE data and how they are trained, the extent of resident training in TEE, and beliefs about the utility of TEE. One hundred eight completed surveys were returned (70% response). Of those responding, 98 (91%) use intraoperative TEE. In 53 of those 98 institutions (54%), an anesthesiologist was primarily responsible for the interpretation of TEE data, whereas a cardiologist was responsible in the remainder. Approximately 35% of anesthesiologists using TEE had training in its use during residency or fellowship; the remainder were trained after finishing residency or fellowship. Forty-two percent of anesthesiologists who use TEE leave a formal interpretation on the chart apart from the anesthesia record, and 43% bill specifically for performing TEE. Although 69% of those responding thought that formal credentials should be required for anesthesiologists to use intraoperative TEE, only 32% reported that their institutions actually mandated this. 38% of those responding stated that they offer a dedicated TEE rotation to their residents, and 13% thought that their graduating residents were trained well enough to use TEE on their own. Among academic institutions responding, the use of intraoperative TEE is nearly universal, responsibility for its interpretation is split almost evenly between cardiologists and anesthesiologists, and there is a disparity between opinions and reality with regard to TEE credentialing for anesthesiologists.

(Anesth Analg 1995;80:454-8)

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