Background and objective Transoesophageal echocardiography is increasingly used for evaluation and monitoring of left ventricular function in anaesthetized patients. However, the only available reference values for transoesophageal echocardiography were derived from studies in awake subjects.
Methods We determined left ventricular dimensions and systolic function in 45 patients without clinical evidence of heart disease who voluntarily underwent transesophageal echocardiography under conditions of balanced general anaesthesia, controlled fluid administration, supine position, muscle relaxation and controlled ventilation.
Results The left ventricular dimensions obtained during these conditions were lower than the published normal values in awake subjects. The indices of global left ventricular function, however, were similar to the normal values obtained by either awake transesophageal echocardiography or transthoracic echocardiography.
Conclusion We propose using the values obtained in our study as reference values for evaluation of left ventricular function in patients under general anaesthesia and controlled ventilation.