Clinical, imaging, and pathological characteristics of left ventricular thrombus: a comparison of contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, transthoracic echocardiography, and transesophageal echocardiography with surgical or pathological validation

Am Heart J. 2006 Jul;152(1):75-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2005.08.021.


Background: Left ventricular (LV) thrombus is a frequent and potentially dangerous complication of ischemic heart disease (IHD). We evaluated the clinical, imaging, and pathology characteristics of confirmed LV thrombus and compared the diagnostic value of contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with transthoracic (TTE) and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) for the diagnosis of LV thrombi.

Methods: Between November 1997 and December 2003, 361 patients with IHD had surgical and/or pathological confirmation of presence or absence of LV thrombus. Clinical information and preoperative imaging study reports were retrospectively reviewed regarding detection of thrombus. Comparisons were made between clinical and imaging characteristics of patients with and without confirmed thrombus.

Results: Left ventricular thrombus was present in 106 (29%) of 361 patients in this study. Patients with thrombus had a higher incidence of recent embolic events (6.1% vs 0.8%, P < .005). In 160 patients with all 3 imaging modalities performed within 30 days of surgical or pathological confirmation, contrast-enhanced MRI showed the highest sensitivity and specificity (88% +/- 9% and 99% +/- 2%, respectively) compared with TTE (23% +/- 12% and 96% +/- 3.6%, respectively) and TEE (40% +/- 14% and 96% +/- 3.6%, respectively) for thrombus detection.

Conclusions: Left ventricular thrombus occurs frequently in patients with IHD and is associated with risk of systemic embolization. Contrast-enhanced MRI provided the highest sensitivity and specificity for LV thrombus when compared to TTE and TEE, and should be considered in the care of patients at high risk of LV thrombus formation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Echocardiography
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / complications
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Heart Ventricles* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thrombosis / complications
  • Thrombosis / diagnosis*
  • Thrombosis / pathology
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology