Feasibility, Safety, and Utility of Advanced Critical Care Transesophageal Echocardiography Performed by Pulmonary/Critical Care Fellows in a Medical ICU

Chest. 2017 Oct;152(4):736-741. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2017.06.029. Epub 2017 Jul 8.


Background: Competence in advanced critical care transesophageal echocardiography allows the intensivist to diagnose and manage cardiopulmonary failure when transthoracic echocardiography is not sufficient to answer the clinical question. This report describes the feasibility, safety, and utility of transesophageal echocardiography performed by pulmonary and critical care fellows in a medical ICU in critically ill patients who were mechanically ventilated.

Methods: This longitudinal descriptive study of advanced transesophageal echocardiography was performed in patients who were mechanically ventilated. The complications and clinical utility of the examinations were abstracted from review of the image set, the written report, and the patient chart. Influence on diagnosis was classified as confirming the initial clinical diagnosis or identification of a new or unanticipated finding. Therapeutic impact was categorized as no change in therapy resulting from the study findings or as change in therapy resulting from the study findings.

Results: The examination was feasible in all patients in whom it was attempted, and there were no complications of the procedure. New or actionable findings were identified in 43 (28%) studies, and 109 (72%) studies confirmed the initial clinical diagnosis. The findings resulted in a change in clinical management in 58 (38%) patients.

Conclusions: Critical care transesophageal echocardiography is feasible, safe, and has clinical utility. It can be safely and effectively performed by fellows within the context of their critical care training with faculty supervision. Pulmonary critical care fellowship training programs should consider introducing critical care transesophageal echocardiography as a useful clinical tool.

Keywords: critical care; imaging; transesophageal echocardiography.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal / standards
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Medicine / education*
  • Reproducibility of Results