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Routine Transesophageal Echocardiography in Atrial Fibrillation Before Electrical Cardioversion to Detect Left Atrial Thrombosis and Echocontrast

Background:Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) before electrical cardioversion (ECV) in atrial fibrillation (AF) is not routinely performed in anticoagulated patients. Methods:Starting from TEE findings of anticoagulated and non-anticoagulated patients referred for ECV, we investigated the rate of spontaneous echo-contrast (SEC) and left atrial thrombus (LAT) and identified their independent predictors. Results:A total of 403 patients were included: 262 (65%) had no anticoagulation, 47 (11.7%) were onnovel oral anticoagulant (rivaroxaban), 74 (18.4%) on warfarin INR>2, and 20 (5.0%) on warfarin INR<2.In 41 (10.1%) there was LAT and in 154 (38.2%) SEC. Patients with LAT had a significantly lower left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF%) (p=0.001). Patients with SEC were significantly older (p=0.04), had lower LVEF% (p<0.0001),higher CHADSVASC score (p<0.0001), and higher rate of coronary artery disease (CAD) (p=0.03). In 56.8% of warfarin patients (INR>2) there was SEC (p=0.002). At multivariate analysis therapeutic anticoagulation with warfarin (p=0.003; OR:2.2; CI: 1.3-3.7),CHADSVASC score (p<0.0001; OR=1.2; CI: 1.1-1.4), and LVEF% (p<0.0001; OR:0.95; CI: 0.93-0.97; inverse relationship) were SEC predictors. A 3.5 CHADSVASC score cut-off was predictor of SEC (AUC: 0.7; p<0.0001). LVEF% was the only predictor of LAT (p=0.02; OR=0.96; CI: 0.93-0.99; inverse relationship). Conclusion: Echocardiography before ECV identifies clear LAT/SEC in more than a third of AF patients, independently by their anticoagulation regimen. LAT/SEC rates increasewith decrement of LVEF%. Increment of CHADSVASC score increases SEC risk. In anticoagulated patients SEC rate remains higher than expected. Therapeutic anticoagulation with Warfarin appears positively and independently correlated to SEC occurrence.

Credits: Sebastian Feickert, MD;Giuseppe D´Ancona, MD, PhD; Hüseyin Ince, MD, PhD; Kristof Graf, MD, PHD; Elias Kugel, MD;Monica Murero, PhD; Erdal Safak, MD

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