Contrast M-Mode Echocardiography in Diagnosis of Atrial Septal Defect in Acyanotic Patients

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Contrast echocardiograms during normal quiet respiration and during the Valsalva maneuver were performed in 15 patients with atrial septal defect (ASD) by injecting saline solution into an antecubital vein. Contrast shunting (the appearance of contrast echoes in the left heart) was observed not only in four patients with severe pulmonary hypertension (group 2), but also in 11 patients with uncomplicated ASD (group 1). Contrast shunting was prominent in all group 2 patients. In group 1, contrast shunting was sometimes subtle and difficult to recognize, but at other times was very obvious and similar to the findings in group 2. Contrast shunting was generally more pronounced during the Valsalva maneuver than during normal respiration, although there were exceptions. The amount of contrast appearing in the left heart did not correlate with the size of the defect. Small right-to-left shunts which are clinically insignificant but detectable by contrast echocardiography are present, or can be provoked by the Valsalva maneuver, in most patients with ASD. Contrast echocardiography is a useful, noninvasive method to detect interatrial communication, even in acyanotic patients

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