This study evaluated the relation between left atrial appendage (LAA) function and LAA spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) or thrombus formation. Seventy-five patients (45 men and 30 women, aged 14-79 years) referred for transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) were examined for LAA area (maximal and minimal), LAA ejection fraction ([LAA maximal area - LAA minimal area]/LAA maximal area), LAA peak emptying velocity, and these patients were classified into three groups by different LAA blood flow patterns: Group 1 - 25 patients with well-defined biphasic configuration of LAA flow; Group 2 - 28 patients with multiphasic configuration of LAA flow; Group 3 - 22 patients with very low LAA blood flow and, sometimes, barely detected Doppler signal. All the 25 patients in Group 1 had a sinus rhythm during TEE study, while the other 50 patients in Groups 2 and 3 were in atrial fibrillation. The patients in Group 3 had the lowest LAA ejection fraction and the lowest peak emptying velocity of these three groups. LAA SEC was present in five of 28 patients in Group 2 and 14 of 22 patients in Group 3, but in none of 25 patients in Group 1 (P < 0.001). LAA thrombus was present in one of 25 patients in Group 1, two of 28 patients in Group 2, and seven of 22 patients in Group 3 (P < 0.05). In conclusion, this study found that patients with poor LAA function, which was represented by lower LAA ejection fraction and lower peak emptying velocity, had higher incidence of LAA SEC or thrombus formation.
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