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Echocardiography. 2012;29(1):112-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8175.2011.01535.x.

Is it time to move on from two-dimensional transesophageal to three-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography for assessment of left atrial appendage? Review of existing literature.

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Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35249, USA.


Left atrial appendage (LAA) has unique anatomical and physiological properties, which make it a common site for thrombus formation in many cardiovascular and systemic diseases. Assessment of LAA for thrombus thus becomes important in many clinical situations and two-dimensional transesophageal echocardiography (2D TEE), which allows excellent quality images of LAA because of its close proximity to esophagus is routinely used for this purpose. However, it is a semiinvasive procedure, requires more time and involves some degree of patient discomfort. With some training and experience, two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2D TTE) can visualize LAA in most patients with good acoustic windows. A disadvantage of both 2D TTE and 2D TEE is that they provide only a thin slice or section of cardiac structures at any given time limiting their utility in comprehensively assessing the LAA for thrombus. On the other hand, live/real time three-dimensional (3D) TTE overcomes this limitation of both 2D TTE and 2D TEE because of its ability to encompass whole of the LAA in three-dimensions in the acquired data set, which can then be cropped and sectioned systematically at any desired angulation to more definitively look for clot. 3D TTE is also useful in differentiating a clot from pectinate muscles in the LAA, which can mimic a thrombus resulting in patient mismanagement. In addition, 3D TTE is helpful in sectioning a clot for lysis, which has implications in clot resolution. We reviewed the existing literature comparing the relative advantages and disadvantages of 3D TTE versus 2D TEE and found that in patients with good acoustic windows 3D TTE had similar efficacy for detecting LAA thrombus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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