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Clinical Investigations: CARDIOLOGY |

Association of Follow-up Change of Left Atrial Appendage Blood Flow Velocity With Spontaneous Echo Contrast in Nonrheumatic Atrial Fibrillation*

Liang-Miin Tsai, MD; Ting-Hsing Chao, MD; Jyh-Hong Chen, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From the Section of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Medical College and Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan, Republic of China. This study was supported in part by Grant DOH84-HR-206 from the National Health Research Institute, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Correspondence to: Liang-Miin Tsai, MD, Section of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Medical College and Hospital, 138 Shing Li Road, Tainan 704, Taiwan, Republic of China



Chest. 2000;117(2):309-313. doi:10.1378/chest.117.2.309
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Study objectives: To evaluate the time-related change of left atrial (LA) appendage flow velocity in chronic atrial fibrillation (AF) by follow-up transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and to investigate its association with the occurrence of LA spontaneous echo contrast.

Design: Prospective follow-up study.

Setting: University-based, tertiary referral medical center.

Patients: Forty-seven patients with chronic nonrheumatic AF.

Interventions: All studied patients underwent both a baseline and follow-up TEE during a mean period of 13 ± 7 months.

Measurements and results: Baseline TEE revealed that LA spontaneous echo contrast was present in 28 patients (group 1) and was absent in 19 patients (group 2). The LA appendage flow velocity profiles at baseline were significantly lower in group 1 than in group 2; on follow-up, the appendage flow velocities decreased significantly in group 2, but were not significantly changed in group 1. Follow-up TEE revealed that spontaneous echo contrast was persistent in all group 1 patients. In group 2, LA spontaneous echo contrast was newly observed in 9 patients (group 2A) but was persistently absent in 10 patients (group 2B). In group 2A, all of the LA appendage flow velocity profiles decreased significantly at the follow-up study. In group 2B, however, only LA appendage inflow velocity integral showed significant decrease on follow-up; there were no significant changes in LA appendage outflow velocity indexes and peak inflow velocity.

Conclusions: LA appendage flow velocity may decrease with time in some patients with AF, and this change is associated with a new occurrence of LA spontaneous echo contrast. For patients without LA spontaneous echo contrast, serial follow-up of the LA appendage flow velocity profiles may be useful for predicting future development of spontaneous echo contrast. Once LA spontaneous echo contrast occurs in AF patients, it tends to persist with time and the LA appendage is usually under a persistently low flow state.

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