Between 4 and 10% of patients with renal cell carcinoma have tumor involving the inferior vena cava and many of these patients have suprahepatic extension. In patients with intracaval neoplastic extension precise definition of the superior aspect of the tumor thrombus is critical. Transabdominal ultrasonography, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and inferior venacavography are all currently used to evaluate the inferior vena cava in these patients. Intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography was used to image the inferior vena cava in 5 patients with renal cell carcinoma and intracaval neoplastic extension. In each patient transesophageal echocardiography correctly revealed the superior extent of tumor thrombus. In 3 patients tumor thrombus was found at a higher level by transesophageal echocardiography than by CT, MRI and inferior venacavography. In all patients tumor imaging by transesophageal echocardiography correlated well with the gross appearance and extent of tumor found at operation. Echocardiography also documented the absence of residual gross tumor after resection. Transesophageal echocardiography was also useful to assess left ventricular function. Although each of these patients had a pulmonary artery catheter as well transesophageal echocardiography can be useful in situations when right atrial tumor thrombus prevents right heart catheterization. This small series demonstrates that intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography can accurately evaluate the extent of tumor thrombus and provides a means to assess myocardial function complementary to the pulmonary artery catheter.
- Kidney neoplasms
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