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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1995 Dec;26(7):1713-8.

Detection of prosthetic valve strands by transesophageal echocardiography: clinical significance in patients with suspected cardiac source of embolism.

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Department of Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine how frequently prosthetic valve strands are associated with prosthetic mitral and aortic valves, as detected by transesophageal echocardiography, and to assess their significance in relation to clinical cardioembolic events.


Strands attached to prosthetic mitral valves are a recently described finding of uncertain clinical significance. There are no reports of strands attached to aortic valve prostheses, and data are limited concerning the relation of valvular strands to cardioembolic events.


We identified all transesophageal echocardiographic studies performed during a 5-year period at our institution for evaluation of valve dysfunction or a suspected cardioembolic event in patients with a valve prosthesis. All studies were reviewed. The presence of strands was noted and the prevalence compared between patients evaluated for a suspected cardioembolic event and those evaluated for valve dysfunction. In patients with no strands detected, the presence of other potential cardiac sources of embolism was noted.


Strands were detected in 56 (26%) of 214 studies. There was a significant difference (p = 0.0001) in the prevalence of strands between studies performed for a suspected cardioembolic event (34 [53%] of 64) versus those performed for suspected valve dysfunction (22 [15%] of 150). Strands were more prevalent on mitral than on aortic valves (32% vs. 13%, p = 0.0004) and were more frequently detected on mechanical than on bioprosthetic valves (27% vs. 8%, p = 0.003). Among patients with a suspected cardioembolic event and normal valves, other potential cardiac sources of embolism were detected in 67%.


Prosthetic valve strands are frequently detected by transesophageal echocardiography. They are more commonly detected in patients being evaluated for a suspected cardioembolic event and thus represent a potential cardiac source of embolism. In patients with apparently normal valves, other potential sources of embolism are frequently detected. Thus, transesophageal echo-cardiography may have a significant impact on the management of these patients.

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