More anesthesiologists are routinely using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) during liver transplant surgery, but the effects on patient outcome are unknown. Transplant anesthesiologists are therefore uncertain if they should undergo additional training and adopt TEE. In response to these clinical questions, the Society for the Advancement of Transplant Anesthesia appointed experts in liver transplantation and who are certified in TEE to evaluate all available published evidence on the topic. The aim was to produce a summary with greater explanatory power than individual reports to guide transplant anesthesiologists in their decision to use TEE. An exhaustive search recovered 51 articles of uncontrolled clinical observations. Topics chosen for this study were effectiveness and safety because they were a major or minor topic in all articles. The pattern of clinical use was a common topic and was included to provide contextual information. Summarized observations showed effectiveness as the ability to make a new and unexpected diagnosis and to direct the choice of clinical management. These were reported in each stage of liver transplant surgery. There were observations that TEE facilitated rapid diagnosis of life-threatening conditions difficult to identify with other types of monitoring commonly used in the operating room. Real-time diagnosis by TEE images made anesthesiologists confident in their choice of interventions, especially those with a high risk of complications such as use of anticoagulants for intracardiac thrombosis. The summarized observations in this systematic review suggest that TEE is an effective form of monitoring with a safety profile similar to that in cardiac surgery patients.
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