Background. Thromboembolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation is secondary to emboli arising from atrial cavities, particularly left atrial appendage. Stroke Prevention Atrial Fibrillation (SPAF) III study showed washing flow, left appendage ejection fraction, natural echocontrast, and left appendage volume and morphology, as risk parameters of thromboembolism.
Methods. The authors examined 69 patients by transesophageal echocardiography, subdividing them into 3 groups: 26 patients in sinus rhythm in Group A (Gr.A), 22 patients in atrial fibrillation without thrombi in the left atrial appendage in Group B (Gr.B), 21 patients with tromboembolism and with thrombus in the left atrial appendage (Gr.C). Results. Atrial volume in sinus rhythm (SR) patients (41.9 +/- 23.4 cm3) was lower than the one in Gr.B (86.2 +/- 47.9 cm3, p < 0.001) and Gr.C (78.6 +/- 28.5 cm3, p < 0.01), whereas no difference was found between Gr.B and Gr.C (86.2 vs. 78.6 cm3; p > 0.05). No difference was found between Gr.A and Gr.B left atrial appendage fraction (31.8% versus 29.1%, p > 0.05), whereas it was found related to Gr.C (31.8% versus 15.4% p < 0.01). Flow velocity within left atrial appendage was significantly higher in Gr.A in relation to the other two groups (p < 0.001); flow velocity in Gr.B was lower than in Gr.A but higher than in Gr.C and in all cases such differences were statistically significant (p < 0.001). Gr.A flow duration was approximately twice as much compared to the one in Gr.B (616.8 +/- 94.1 msec vs. 483.3 +/- 172.6 msec, p < 0.01), whereas it was approximately four times higher compared to the one in Gr.C (616.8 +/- 94.1 msec vs. 165.7 +/- 53.7 msec; p < 0.001). Such duration, if related to the corresponding cardiac cycle, indicates the percentage of time during which blood flows through a cycle within the left atrial appendage; this value is about 85% of cardiac cycle in Gr.A, while it is 65% in Gr.B (p < 0.01) and about 21% in Gr.C (p < 0.001).
Conclusions. Such results add a new parameter to the ones suggested in the SPAF III study for the evaluation of TE risk, that is flow duration measurement within the left atrial appendage, and its ratio to the cardiac cycle. The availability to measure this parameter, by recording the transesophageal pulse wave sample volume positioned in the atrial appendage, makes the evaluation of TE risk more reliable.Free PDF Download
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To cite this article
N. Alessandri, S. Mariani, A. Ciccaglioni**, F.R. Messina, C. Gaudio, G. Rondoni, C. Parlapiano*
Thrombus formation in the left atrial appendage in the course of atrial fibrillation
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Vol. 7 - N. 3