Echocardiographic evaluation of the intrathoracic aorta by transesophageal echocardiography has been useful for the rapid and accurate diagnosis of primary or secondary aortic pathology. The severity and the etiology of the aortic pathology can be quickly diagnosed and treated.
Almost the entire intrathoracic aorta can be visualized with transesophageal echocardiography whereas transthoracic echocardiography has limited views. Transthoracic echocardiography permits only limited views of the ascending aorta, the distal descending aorta. Intraoperatively, epiaortic echocardiography provides a useful complement to transesophageal echocardiography for interrogation of the ascending aorta and proximal aortic arch.
While other diagnostic modalities (MRI, CT) are accurate in defining aortic pathology, diganosis by transesophageal echocardiography may be more efficient and practical to obtain. In addition to an aortic evaluation, interrogation of the heart for the primary etiology or secondarily effects of the aortic pathology adds to the advantages of transesophageal echocardiography.