Relation of thrombus in the left atrial appendage by transesophageal echocardiography to clinical risk factors for thrombus formation

Am J Cardiol. 1994 Aug 15;74(4):391-3. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(94)90409-x.


Transesophageal echocardiography provides excellent visualization of the left atrial appendage (LAA). This study was conducted to determine whether specific clinical risk factors could predict the presence of LAA thrombus as demonstrated by transesophageal echocardiography. The most recent 860 transesophageal echocardiographic studies performed at our institution were retrospectively reviewed. The LAA was adequately visualized in 778 patients (90%). For each study, the presence or absence of 5 specific clinical risk factors (mitral stenosis, severe left ventricular dysfunction, left atrial dilatation, atrial fibrillation, or a prosthetic mitral valve) and the presence or absence of LAA thrombi were assessed. One or more clinical risk factors were present in 149 patients, whereas no defined risk factors were noted in 629. Left atrial appendage thrombi were found in 20 of 149 patients with versus 6 of 629 patients without a clinical risk factor (13% vs 1%, p = 0.0001). By logistic regression analysis, mitral stenosis, severe left ventricular dysfunction, and left atrial dilatation were independent risk factors for LAA thrombus formation. Neither atrial fibrillation nor the presence of a mitral prosthetic valve achieved statistical significance as independent risk factors for LAA thrombus. Thus, LAA thrombi occur most often in patients with risk factors for thrombus formation that can be determined by clinical evaluation and transthoracic echocardiography. Transesophageal echocardiography rarely identifies LAA thrombi in patients without such clinical risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Echocardiography
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal*
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thrombosis / epidemiology*