Smoke-like echo in the left atrial cavity in mitral valve disease: its features and significance

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1985 Oct;6(4):744-9. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(85)80476-9.


In some patients with mitral stenosis, a smoke-like echo is observed in the left atrial cavity. The present study in 116 consecutive patients with rheumatic mitral valve disease investigated the echocardiographic features and clinical significance of this echo. The smoke-like echo is characterized by the following echocardiographic features: 1) it is composed of numerous microechoes; 2) it curls up slowly in the enlarged left atrial cavity; and 3) it vanishes as soon as it pours into the ventricular cavity. Hemostasis in the left atrial cavity was considered to be an important underlying condition for development of the echo. Hemorheologic conditions indicated that the shear rate of blood flow in the left atrial cavity was calculated to be low enough for the development of red blood cell aggregation. These conditions suggest that the source of the smoke-like echo might be aggregated cells due to hemostasis in the left atrial cavity. Left atrial thrombi were detected in many patients who had this echo in the left atrial cavity. Although it has not been conclusively determined that the presence of the smoke-like echo is a necessary condition for thrombus formation, this echo appears to be closely related to thrombus formation in the left atrial cavity. It is concluded that the presence of this echo indicates severe left atrial hemostasis and is a warning for thrombus formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Heart Atria*
  • Heart Valve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitral Valve Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Mitral Valve*