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Chest. 1992 Jun;101(6):1515-20.

Detection of patent foramen ovale by contrast transesophageal echocardiography.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, ROC.


A series of 32 patients undergoing cardiac catheterization and/or operation to document the presence of patent foramen ovale (PFO) were studied. All were examined by contrast transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) during normal breathing and the Valsalva maneuver. A right-to-left shunt at the atrial level was visualized by contrast TEE in 14 patients during normal breathing and in 20 patients during the Valsalva maneuver. In comparison, contrast TTE revealed this shunt in only eight patients during normal breathing and in 12 patients during the Valsalva maneuver. All of the foramina proved to be patent by contrast TTE were also found by contrast TEE. All but one (19 of 20) patients, shown to have PFO by contrast TEE, could be confirmed at cardiac catheterization and/or operation. Using cardiac catheterization and/or operation as a gold standard, contrast TEE appears to be a more sensitive (100 percent vs 63 percent, p less than 0.005) and accurate (97 percent vs 78 percent, p less than 0.05) method than contrast TTE in the detection of PFO.

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