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Echocardiography. 2000 May;17(4):365-72.

Transesophageal echocardiography risk factors for stroke in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.

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University of Ottawa Heart Institute, 40 Ruskin Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Y 4W7.


Atrial fibrillation is a common arrhythmia, particularly in the older age groups. It confers an increased risk of thromboembolism to these patients, and multiple clinical risk factors have been identified to be useful in predicting the risks of thromboembolic events. Recent studies have evaluated the role of transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in the evaluation of patients with atrial fibrillation. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the significance of transesophageal echocardiographic findings in the prediction of thromboembolic events, particularly stroke, in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, with an emphasis on recently reported prospective studies. Aortic plaque and left atrial appendage abnormalities are identified as independent predictors of thromboembolic events. Although they are associated with clinical events, they also have independent incremental prognostic values. Other transesophageal echocardiographic findings, such as patent foramen ovale and atrial septal aneurysm, have not been found to be predictors of thromboembolic events in this patient group. Thus, TEE is a useful tool in stratifying patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation into different risk groups in terms of thromboembolic events, and it will likely play an important role in future studies to assess new treatment strategies in high-risk patients with atrial fibrillation.

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