New View Can Reveal the Heart’s (Valve) Secrets

Dr. Filip Roos

Amid all the high-tech wonders in NorthBay Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Operating Suite, there’s one that’s not too hard to swallow. Literally.

It’s the “echo transducer” or probe that allows Dr. Filip Roos and a few other doctors to put the Transesophageal Echocardiogram to the test. The diagnostic procedure allows physicians the best possible view of the heart—through the esophagus. That way, the image is as pure as can be, without having to look through skin, bone, muscle and lung tissue.

Dr. Roos, who has made TEE his specialty, can view the heart from every angle, and even create 3-D and 4-D (moving) images.

The procedure can be used both as a diagnostic tool, to determine possible risk factors, valve disorders, heart infections and best treatment scenarios, as well as a tool during surgery.

That view comes courtesy of the Philips iE33, a state-of-the art piece of equipment that came with the new operating suite, when NorthBay established its Heart & Vascular Program in April 2009.

The procedure is minimally invasive. The probe is placed in the esophagus, or swallowing tube, while a patient is mildly sedated.
A little bit of anesthetic is used to numb the throat. The doctor is then able to shift the probe down the esophagus, and use ultrasound to see visuals of the heart. The probe can be rotated, to capture different angles.

The procedure can be used both as a diagnostic tool, to determine possible risk factors, valve disorders, heart infections and best treatment scenarios, as well as a tool during surgery.

“It’s the gold standard for diagnosing valve disorders,” explains Dr. Roos. “About 48 percent of patients with valve disorders never get referred for treatment. Valvular disease is under-diagnosed and under-managed. The public needs to know that if they have a history of heart murmur or valve disorders, it’s easier than ever for us to check it out. It’s right on target with NorthBay’s mission of offering advanced medicine close to home.”

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