BACKGROUND: Although surface sonography has become an essential diagnostic tool in the evaluation of trauma patients, important limitations of this modality include the evaluation of retroperitoneal hemorrhage and mediastinal pathology, such as blunt traumatic aortic injuries (BTAI). As in other emergency applications where surface sonography can't provide the information needed, focused transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) may represent a valuable diagnostic tool in the evaluation of hemodynamically unstable trauma patients with suspected thoracic pathology such as BTAI.
CASE SERIES: We present a series of five cases that illustrate the diagnostic value of emergency physician-performed resuscitative TEE in the diagnosis of BTAI in patients presenting with blunt thoracic trauma. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: As the use of point-of-care TEE during resuscitation continues to expand in emergency medicine, the evaluation of patients with BTAI represents a novel application where this emerging modality can allow early diagnosis of these injuries in hemodynamically unstable patients.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.