Objectives: This study was conducted to determine the yield of transesophageal echocardiographic findings in a consecutive series of patients with stroke and transient ischemic attack, with and without carotid stenosis, and to estimate the recurrent stroke risk associated with specific echocardiographic findings.
Background: Transesophageal echocardiography has a high yield for identification of potential sources of cardiac embolism in patients with cerebral ischemia; however, the clinical significance of the most commonly detected abnormalities is uncertain.
Methods: We evaluated 145 consecutively admitted patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack with both transesophageal echocardiography and carotid ultrasound. Patients were followed up prospectively for a mean duration of 18 months to document the rate of recurrent cerebral ischemia.
Results: Transesophageal echocardiography detected at least one potential cardiac source of embolism in 45% of the patients. Atrial septal aneurysm and interatrial shunt were detected more frequently in patients who did not have a significant carotid stenosis that could account for their ischemic event. During follow-up, a higher rate of recurrent stroke or transient ischemic attack occurred in patients with positive transesophageal echocardiographic findings, particularly atrial septal aneurysm, interatrial shunt and left atrial thrombus.
Conclusions: These data support recent studies that suggest that atrial septal aneurysm and interatrial shunts may be a significant source of cardioembolic stroke. Further studies are needed to clarify the optimal management of patients with these abnormalities.