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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1999 Dec;34(7):1867-77.

Echocardiographic assessment of the left atrial appendage.

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Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


The left atrial (LA) appendage is a common source of cardiac thrombus formation associated with systemic embolism. Transesophageal echocardiography allows a detailed evaluation of the structure and function of the appendage by two-dimensional imaging and Doppler interrogation of appendage flow. Specific flow patterns, reflecting appendage function, have been characterized for normal sinus rhythm and various abnormal cardiac rhythms. Appendage dysfunction has been associated with LA appendage spontaneous echocardiographic contrast, thrombus formation and thromboembolism. These associations have been studied extensively in patients with atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, in patients undergoing cardioversion of atrial arrhythmias and in patients with mitral valve disease. The present review summarizes the literature on the echocardiographic assessment of LA appendage structure, function and dysfunction, which has become an integral part of the routine clinical transesophageal echocardiographic examination.

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