The development of a new 3-D tool that enables trainees in transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) to have real-time instruction in obtaining and interpreting high-quality images of the heart and major vessels - and it's all just a finger swipe away on your Apple iPad was revealed by a team of researchers from Duke University speaking at the ANESTHESIOLOGYâ„˘ 2012 annual meeting.
TEE is performed through a specialized ultrasound probe passed into a patient's esophagus to perform an echocardiogram of the heart, which helps physicians visualize cardiac anatomy. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists and American Society of Echocardiography strongly support the use of 3-D TEE as an advanced diagnostic application for cardiac surgical patients.
"3D ultrasound imaging for heart surgery is an important tool for anesthesiologists to relay real-time anatomical information to cardiac surgeons," said lead study author Brandi Bottiger, M.D. of the Cardiothoracic Anesthesia Division, Duke University Hospital. "It has a distinct advantage in cardiac surgery by displaying anatomy in a similar way to how surgeons visualize the actual structures."
Dr. Bottiger stated that acquiring and interpreting 3D echocardiography images continues to be conceptually challenging for trainees. The program created by the Duke team, though, offers a user-friendly, portable teaching tool that can be used while the trainee is performing an examination in real-time in the O.R.
After acquiring video using an esophageal ultrasound probe, the researchers used software programs to create annotated instructional movies, which could then be viewed on the trainee's iPad.
To date, this new educational device has only been used for anesthesiology trainees and residents at Duke, and it has been developed specifically for the iPad only.
"For the greatest effect, this product should be available on multiple handheld devices," said Dr. Bottiger. "The next phase of the project will be to determine whether this new educational approach is a valid instructional model for echocardiography education with an overall goal to optimize patient care through improved understanding of 3D echocardiography."