Ultrasound tool, dubbed the ‘new stethoscope,’ to monitor critically ill patients
Vanderbilt cardiothoracic anesthesiologists and surgeons are pioneering the use of a tool that many in the cardiac field are calling the “new stethoscope” when it comes to monitoring critically ill patients.
Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is a diagnostic procedure that involves feeding an ultrasound probe through a patient’s mouth and into their esophagus to evaluate heart function. Because the esophagus is close to the heart, TEE can generate high-resolution images as the organ pumps. TEE is invaluable in locating cardiac blood clots, masses and tumors and can detect the severity of valve problems, congenital heart diseases and aortic tears.
Vanderbilt’s cardiothoracic anesthesiologists have more than 15 years of experience using TEE for patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Now, smaller, disposable TEE probes are being used to monitor the hearts of critically ill patients in intensive care units for as long as three days.