The Safety of Intraoperative Transesophageal Echocardiography: A Case Series of 7200 Cardiac Surgical Patients

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Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is an invaluable intraoperative diagnostic monitor that is considered to be relatively safe and noninvasive. Insertion and manipulation of the TEE probe, however, may cause oropharyngeal, esophageal, or gastric trauma. We report the incidence of intraoperative TEE-associated complications in a single-center series of 7200 adult cardiac surgical patients. Information related to intraoperative TEE-associated complications was obtained retrospectively from the intraoperative TEE data form, routine postoperative visits, and cardiac surgical morbidity and mortality data. The overall incidences of TEE-associated morbidity and mortality in the study population were 0.2% and 0%, respectively. The most common TEE-associated complication was severe odynophagia, which occurred in 0.1% of the study population. Other complications included dental injury (0.03%), endotracheal tube malpositioning (0.03%), upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage (0.03%), and esophageal perforation (0.01%). TEE probe insertion was unsuccessful or contraindicated in 0.18% and 0.5% of the study population, respectively. These data suggest that intraoperative TEE is a relatively safe diagnostic monitor for the management of cardiac surgical patients.

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