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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 Nov 24;54(22):2032-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2009.07.037.

Role of the CHADS2 score in the evaluation of thromboembolic risk in patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing transesophageal echocardiography before pulmonary vein isolation.

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.



The goals of this study were to determine: 1) if low-risk patients assessed by a CHADS(2) score, a clinical scoring system quantifying a risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), require a routine screening transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) before pulmonary vein isolation (PVI); and 2) the relationship of a CHADS(2) score with left atrial (LA)/left atrial appendage (LAA) spontaneous echo contrast, sludge, and thrombus.


There is no clear consensus of whether a screening TEE before catheter ablation of AF should be performed in every patient.


Initial TEEs for pre-PVI of 1,058 AF patients (age 57 +/- 11 years, 80% men) were reviewed and compared with a CHADS(2) score.


CHADS(2) scores of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 were present in 47%, 33%, 14%, 5%, 1%, 0.3%, and 0% of patients, respectively. The prevalence of LA/LAA thrombus, sludge, and spontaneous echo contrast were present in 0.6%, 1.5%, and 35%. The prevalence of LA/LAA thrombus/sludge increased with ascending CHADS(2) score (scores 0 [0%], 1 [2%], 2 [5%], 3 [9%], and 4 to 6 [11%], p < 0.01). No patient with a CHADS(2) score of 0 had LA/LAA sludge/thrombus. In a multivariate model, history of congestive heart failure and left ventricular ejection fraction <35% were significantly associated with sludge/thrombus.


The prevalence of LA/LAA sludge/thrombus in patients with AF undergoing a pre-PVI screening TEE is very low (<2%) and increases significantly with higher CHADS(2) scores. This suggests that a screening TEE before PVI should be performed in patients with a CHADS(2) score of >or=1, and in patients with a CHADS(2) score of 0 when the AF is persistent and therapeutic anticoagulation has not been maintained for 4 weeks before the procedure.

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