TEE simulator uses patient images to improve cardiology training

Training using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) simulators typically relies on grainy drawings of patients in black and white. But a new version, developed by a team from the University of Washington led by Florence Sheehan, MD, can display 3D images of a hypothetical patient, allowing users to look for blood clots and other abnormalities.

 “Real patient images are important because if you only look at an artist’s rendering, you can’t appreciate everything else that an image reveals. For example, the ultrasound modality creates visual artifacts that aren’t meaningful and can be misleading. You have to learn how to distinguish those from an actual pathology,” Sheehan said, in a release from the UW School of Medicine.

The new simulator uses images from actual patients instead of drawings used in standard simulators. The tool improves realism in training cardiology fellows and anesthesiology residents at the UW School of Medicine.

Software used by the TEE simulator includes seven real-life cases, allowing trainees to see 3D images instead of the “cartoons,” as Sheehan said, presented by simulators dependent on drawings.