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Heart Rhythm. 2013 Jul;10(7):1021-7. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2013.02.029. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Contrast-enhanced CMR is equally effective as TEE in the evaluation of left atrial appendage thrombus in patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing pulmonary vein isolation procedure.

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Center for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging, The Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212, USA.



Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) routinely undergo transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) for the evaluation of the left atrial appendage (LAA) to rule out thrombus prior to undergoing pulmonary vein isolation (PVI). Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) is now increasingly used for the evaluation of patients with AF to define pulmonary vein (PV) anatomy prior to PVI.


To hypothesize that a retrospective comparison of 2-dimensional/3-dimensional (2D/3D) contrast-enhanced CMR sequences with TEE for the evaluation of LAA thrombus in patients with AF selected for PVI will demonstrate equivalence.


Ninety-seven (N = 97) consecutive patients with AF underwent near-simultaneous TEE and noncontrast and contrast CMR prior to undergoing an initial PVI procedure. The CMR images were analyzed in 2 categories: (1) the 2D noncontrast cine images and early gadolinium enhancement images showing LAA and (2) 3D contrast source images acquired during PV magnetic resonance angiography. CMR variables evaluated were the presence or absence of LAA thrombus and the quality of images, and they were compared with the results of TEE in a blinded fashion.


All subjects were analyzed for the presence or absence of LAA thrombus. Thrombus was absent in 98% of the patients on both TEE and CMR and present in 2% on both studies (100% correlation). In 6 subjects, 2D cine CMR images were indeterminate whereas all 2D early gadolinium enhancement images and 3D contrast images were successful in excluding LAA thrombus. There was 100% concordance between CMR and TEE for the final diagnosis of LAA thrombus.


In one single examination, CMR offers a comparable alternative to TEE for the complete noninvasive evaluation of LAA thrombus and PV anatomy in patients with AF referred for PVI without obligate need for TEE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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