A team of researchers from Duke University, Durham, NC, speaking at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2012 annual meeting revealed that they have created an advanced tool to permit trainees in transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) to use an Apple iPad to obtain real-time instruction in viewing and interpreting 3D images of the heart and major vessels.

TEE is performed byway of a specialized ultrasound probe passed into a patient’s esophagus to perform an echocardiogram of the heart, which aids physicians in visualizing cardiac anatomy in 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, MD, at 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.”

Acquiring and interpreting 3D echocardiography images is challenging for trainees. But, the program created by the Duke team offers a user-friendly, portable teaching tool to be used while the trainee is performing an examination in the O.R. After acquiring video through an esophageal ultrasound probe, the researchers used software to create annotated instructional movies, which can be viewed on the trainee’s iPad.