Objective: The aim of this audit was to determine the incidence of major gastrointestinal (GI) complications associated with intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in adult cardiac surgical patients in this institution.
Design: Retrospective database audit.
Setting: University-affiliated teaching hospital.
Participants: Eight hundred fifty-nine consecutive cardiac surgical patients.
Measurements and main results: The records of all patients who developed a major upper GI complication within 30 days of cardiac surgery between January 2001 and May 2003 were examined. The patients were identified by cross-referencing cardiac surgery and endoscopy databases. A major GI complication was defined as a perforation of the esophagus or stomach or upper GI bleeding requiring transfusion, endoscopic, or surgical intervention. Early presentation was defined as <24 hours; late presentation was defined as >24 hours. During the audit period, 859 patients underwent cardiac surgery. Five hundred sixteen patients had cardiac surgery with TEE (group 1), and 343 patients had cardiac surgery without TEE (group 2). Six patients were identified, 1.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], CI, 0.5%-2.5%) in group 1 who had a major upper GI complication consistent with TEE injury. Two patients, 0.38% (95% CI, 0.05%-1.40%), presented early, and 4 patients, 0.76% (95% CI, 0.21%-1.98%), presented late. One patient in group 2 developed a major upper GI complication, 0.29% (95% CI, 0.01%-1.6%).
Conclusion: The incidence of major GI complications attributed to TEE in this group of cardiac surgical patients was higher than previously reported. Late presentation was more common than early presentation. Previous studies that have not included late presentations may have underestimated the true incidence of major GI complications related to TEE.