Should transesophageal echocardiography become a routine test in patients with suspected pulmonary thromboembolism?

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Pulmonary thromboembolism presents in two clinical subsets: acute pulmonary embolism (PE) with or without right heart thrombi or paradoxical embolism and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). Both PE and CTEPH have been underdiagnosed and carry high mortality rates. Acute massive PE is a hemodynamic entity leading to right ventricular overload readily identified with the use of transthoracic echocardiography. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is a noninvasive bedside technique that has high diagnostic accuracy for the detection of central pulmonary thromboembolism. Due to the high prevalence of central pulmonary thromboembolism in acute PE, TEE is a useful method to provide the necessary proof for the institution of thrombolytic therapy. In the subset of patients with acute PE combined with right heart thrombi or paradoxical embolism, TEE is the technique of choice to guide surgery. CTEPH presents as primary pulmonary hypertension, but it has become a surgically curable disease. TEE is a fast, fairly sensitive, and highly specific diagnostic bedside modality to select surgical candidates with CTEPH. TEE should become a routine test in patients with suspected massive acute PE, suspected right heart thrombi, or paradoxical embolism associated with acute pulmonary embolism and in patients with primary pulmonary hypertension to select those having CTEPH who are suitable for surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-785
Number of pages7
Issue number8 PART I
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 1998



  • Paradoxical embolism
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Right heart thrombus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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