The prevalence and clinical significance of left atrial thrombus were prospectively investigated in a consecutive series of 219 patients with chronic nonrheumatic atrial fibrillation using transesophageal echocardiography. Fifteen left atrial thrombi were detected in 15 of the 219 patients (6.8%); 12 of these thrombi (80%) were confined to the left atrial appendage. Left atrial spontaneous echo contrast was visualized in 85 patients (39%). All the thrombi were found in the left atria with spontaneous echo contrast. Patients with left atrial thrombus had significantly lower left ventricular ejection fraction than those without (49 ± 14% vs. 59 ± 14%; p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis among clinical and transthoracic echocardiographic variables showed that left ventricular ejection fraction < 50% was the only independent predictor for the presence of left atrial thrombus. A history of thromboembolism was significantly more frequent in patients with left atrial thrombus than in those without (73% vs. 32%; P < 0.005). The presence of left atrial thrombus was more specific than spontaneous echo contrast for predicting history of thromboembolism (97% vs. 80%), but its sensitivity was significantly lower (14% vs. 73%). We conclude that: (1) Transesophageal echo-detected left atrial thrombus is not uncommon in patients with chronic nonrheumatic atrial fibrillation and is exclusively observed in those with left atrial spontaneous echo contrast. (2) Impaired left ventricular systolic function may predispose the left atrial thrombus formation. (3) Left atrial thrombus is a highly specific bnt insensitive predictor for thromboembolic events.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine