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Stroke. 2006 Oct;37(10):2531-4. Epub 2006 Aug 31.

Transesophageal echocardiography is superior to transthoracic echocardiography in management of patients of any age with transient ischemic attack or stroke.

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1
Haga Hospital, Leyenburg, The Hague, The Netherlands. s.debruijn@hagaziekenhuis.nl

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

The merits of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in the management of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke patients remains matter of debate.

METHODS:

Two hundred and thirty-one consecutive patients with a recent TIA or stroke for which no definite cause and indication for anticoagulation was assessed after standardized work-up underwent TTE and TEE. Echocardiographic findings were categorized into minor and major risk factors.

RESULTS:

A potential cardiac source of embolism was detected in 55% (127/ 231) of the patients by echocardiography, in 39% (90/231) only identified on TEE. Major risk factors, with an absolute indication for oral anticoagulation, were detected in 20% (46/231) of the patients, in 16% (38/231) of all patients identified on TEE only. A thrombus in the left atrial appendage was the most common major risk factor (38 patients, 16%). The presence of major risk factors was independent of age (chi2=1.48; P=0.224). The difference in proportions of cardiac sources detected in favor of TEE was highly significant in both patients < or = 45 years of age (10/39, P=0.002) and in those > 45 years of age (80/192; P<0.004).

CONCLUSIONS:

TEE proved superior to TTE for identification of a cardiac embolic source in patients with TIA or stroke without pre-existent indication or contraindication for anticoagulation. In patients with normal TTE, a cardiac source of embolism was detected by TEE in approximately 40% of patients, independent of age. More than 1 of 8 patients of any age with normal TTE revealed a major cardiac risk factor on TEE, in whom anticoagulation is warranted.

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