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The Importance of Transesophageal Echocardiography in Diagnosis of Pericardial Tamponade After Cardiac Surgery

Authors


Address for correspondence: Yildirim Imren, M.D., Gazi University Medical Faculty, Cardiovascular Surgery Department, Gazi Hospital, Besevler 06500, Ankara, Turkey. Fax: + 90-312-212-90-14; e-mail: yimren@gazi.edu.tr

Abstract

Abstract Background and aim of the study: Despite the fact that there is a simple and effective treatment for pericardial tamponade (PCT), delayed diagnosis can cause serious morbidities or even mortality. In this study, we discuss the management and the diagnostic procedures of PCT. Materials and methods: Sixty-two patients with suspected PCT were initially evaluated with transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and then with transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). Forty-nine (79%) patients were chosen for surgery after TEE displayed a suspected PCT diagnosis. Patients with suspected PCT were divided into two groups: Early-phase PCT (symptoms developed within 72 hours) and late-phase PCT (symptoms developed after 72 hours). Results: Thirty-five (56%) patients were in the early phase and 27 (44%) patients were in the late phase. In 13 out of 22 (59%) cases, from both early and late phases, TTE findings showed no PCT, but TEE findings showed a positive PCT diagnosis. All 13 of the cases where TEE was positive after a negative TTE were confirmed by surgery. Overall, the PCT diagnoses in 48 out of 49 patients were confirmed during surgery. Discussion: The role of echocardiography in PCT diagnosis is shown to be extremely important in some clinical cases, such as in patients during the postoperative period after cardiac surgery. Furthermore, particularly when TTE does not provide complete imaging of the pericardial sac, TEE should be mandatory. We recommend that even patients with a negative diagnosis of PCT from TTE should undergo further evaluation with TEE.

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