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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1992 Nov;104(5):1410-6.

Transesophageal echocardiography predicts successful withdrawal of ventricular assist devices.

B Barzilai, V G Dávila-Román, M H Eaton, M Rosenbloom, T L Spray, T H Wareing, J L Cox, N T Kouchoukos


  1. Cardiovascular Division, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110.

PMID: 1434724


Transesophageal echocardiography has been found to be an effective technique for the real-time assessment of myocardial and valvular function in postoperative patients. To determine the value of transesophageal echocardiography in patients with mechanical assist devices, we performed daily, bedside transesophageal echocardiography on 16 patients with right (n = 3), left (n = 1), or biventricular assist devices (n = 12). We obtained four-chamber and short-axis views in all patients. Valvular function and the presence of left-to-right shunts were evaluated by means of color flow Doppler imaging. During the echocardiographic study ventricular assist device flow was diminished to less than 1.5 L/min, and inotropic agents (dobutamine or epinephrine) were given to assess ventricular reserve. Changes in day-to-day ventricular function were assessed in comparisons made by two observers (one unaware of the study sequence) using a semiquantitative method for wall motion analysis. The left ventricular wall motion scores in the patients successfully weaned from left or biventricular assist devices (n = 5) improved (14.2 +/- 1.6 versus 8.2 +/- 1.5, p < 0.0001). The scores did not improve in patients who remained dependent on the devices (n = 8). Two patients with only right ventricular assist devices were successfully weaned after documentation of improvement of right ventricular function by transesophageal echocardiography. Transesophageal echocardiography documented a clot compressing the heart in three patients; intracavitary thrombi were seen in two other patients. Marked hemodynamic improvement occurred after surgical decompression. In conclusion, transesophageal echocardiography is a safe, effective method for the assessment of ventricular function of patients on ventricular assist device support. In addition, it allows one to assess valvular function and the presence or absence of impaired ventricular filling.

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