Objectives: Our aim was to determine the diagnostic value of transesophageal echocardiography in right-sided endocarditis.
Background: Recent studies have demonstrated that transesophageal echocardiography is superior to transthoracic echocardiography in the detection of vegetations associated with left-sided endocarditis. Its diagnostic value in right-sided endocarditis has not been established.
Methods: Transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography were prospectively performed in 48 patients who met specific criteria for the suspicion of right-sided endocarditis. All were intravenous drug abusers.
Results: Vegetations were found in 22 of 48 patients by both transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography. The vegetations were more precisely characterized by transesophageal echocardiography in 14 (63%) of 22 patients. In the remaining 26 patients, no vegetations were found by either transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiography. No statistically significant differences were found between the two techniques in the assessment of tricuspid regurgitation, which was detected in 21 (44%) of 48 patients.
Conclusions: We conclude that transesophageal echocardiography does not improve the diagnostic accuracy of transthoracic echocardiography in the detection of vegetations associated with right-sided endocarditis in intravenous drug abusers. Transesophageal echocardiography may not be indicated as a routine procedure in patients suspected of having right-sided endocarditis.