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J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 1994 Sep-Oct;7(5):506-15.

Assessment of right-to-left shunt flow in atrial septal defect by transesophageal color and pulsed Doppler echocardiography.

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  • 1Second Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Tokushima University, Japan.


To investigate the clinical significance and problems of right-to-left (R-L) shunt flow dynamics in atrial septal defects, we performed transesophageal color and pulsed Doppler echocardiography in 30 patients with atrial septal defects of the ostium secundum type. The 30 patients consisted of 20 with a pulmonary artery systolic pressure of less than 40 mm Hg, four with a pressure of 40 to 60 mm Hg, three with a pressure of 90 mm Hg or more, two patients with pulmonic stenosis, and one patient with Ebstein's anomaly. R-L shunting was determined by the presence of a shunt flow signal across the defect during each cardiac cycle. The time of R-L shunt flow was compared with the various parameters obtained by echocardiography and cardiac catheterization. R-L shunt flow signals were detected at the following times: (1) at the onset of ventricular contraction or the closing phase of the tricuspid valve in five patients with isolated atrial septal defect. These patients showed an increase of mean right atrial pressure but had no severe pulmonary hypertension; (2) during ventricular systole in five of 26 patients with tricuspid regurgitation and one patient with Ebstein's anomaly. The tricuspid regurgitant signal was directed toward the ostium of the defect in three patients and was massive in the other patients; (3) during middiastole in three patients without pulmonary hypertension. These patients showed massive left-to-right shunt flow from end systole to early diastole; and (4) during atrial systole in three patients with severe pulmonary hypertension and two patients with pulmonic stenosis. The former, in particular, showed the aliasing signal as a high-speed shunt flow. In two of the three patients with severe pulmonary hypertension, R-L shunting continued from atrial systole to early ventricular systole and was also observed in early diastole. R-L shunt flow was detected in patients with atrial septal defects not only with pulmonary hypertension but also without pulmonary hypertension and was influenced by the right atrial pressure in the phase of tricuspid valve closing, the volume or direction of tricuspid regurgitation, rebound flow caused by massive left-to-right shunt flow, the grade of right ventricular distensibility or the complication of pulmonary hypertension, and complications with other cardiac anomalies. Thus R-L shunt flow in patients with atrial septal defects was detected easily by transesophageal color and pulsed Doppler echocardiography because of the high efficiency of this method for its detection.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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