Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of biplane and multiplane transesophageal echocardiography in patients with suspected aortic dissection, including intramural hematoma.
Background: Transesophageal echocardiography is a useful technique for rapid bedside evaluation of patients with suspected acute aortic dissection. The sensitivity of transesophageal echocardiography is high, but the diagnostic accuracy of biplane and multiplane transesophageal echocardiography for dissection and intramural hematoma is less well defined.
Methods: We studied 112 consecutive patients at a major referral center who had undergone biplane or multiplane transesophageal echocardiography to identify aortic dissection. The presence, absence and type of aortic dissection (type A or B, typical dissection or intramural hematoma) were confirmed by operation or autopsy in 60 patients and by other imaging techniques in all. The accuracy of transesophageal echocardiography for ancillary findings of aortic dissection (intimal flap, fenestration and thrombosis) was assessed in the 60 patients with available surgical data.
Results: Of the 112 patients, aortic dissection was present in 49 (44%); 10 of these had intramural hematoma (5 with and 5 without involvement of the ascending aorta). Of the remaining 63 patients without dissection, 33 (29%) had aortic aneurysm and 30 (27%) had neither dissection nor aneurysm. The overall sensitivity and specificity of transesophageal echocardiography for the presence of dissection were 98% and 95%, respectively. The specificity for type A and type B dissection was 97% and 99%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity for intramural hematoma was 90% and 99%, respectively. The accuracy of transesophageal echocardiography for diagnosis of acute significant aortic regurgitation and pericardial tamponade was 100%.
Conclusions: Biplane and multiplane transesophageal echocardiography are highly accurate for prospective identification of the presence and site of aortic dissection, its ancillary findings and major complications in a large series of patients with varied aortic pathology. Intramural hematoma carries a high complication rate and should be treated identically with aortic dissection.