Comparison of Two-Dimensional Echocardiography and Ultrafast Cardiac Computed Tomography for Evaluating Intracardiac Thrombi in Cerebral Ischemia

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Two-dimensional echocardiography has a high specificity for the detection of intracardiac thrombi, but technically difficult studies are often encountered. Ultrafast cardiac computed tomography may be useful in such cases. Using transthoracic two-dimensional echocardiography and ultrafast cardiac computed tomography, we studied 36 patients with cerebral ischemia; one patient had the studies performed on two occasions, making a total of 37 sets of studies. Technical difficulties occurred in 12 echocardiographic (32%) and two ultrafast cardiac computed tomographic (5%) studies. The two techniques agreed in 29 sets of studies (78%). Among the eight discrepant sets of studies, two-dimensional echocardiography was positive for a left ventricular thrombus while ultrafast cardiac computed tomography was negative in three and equivocal in one and echocardiography was equivocal while ultrafast cardiac computed tomography was negative in two and positive in one. In the latter case, a left ventricular thrombus was confirmed at autopsy. In the other discrepant set of studies echocardiography was negative while ultrafast cardiac computed tomography revealed a left atrial and appendage thrombus. Because of its ease of performance and safety, two-dimensional echocardiography is the appropriate initial screening test for left ventricular thrombus. Ultrafast cardiac computed tomography can provide additional information in patients with technically difficult or equivocal two-dimensional echocardiographic studies or patients with cardiac disorders predisposing to atrial thrombi formation.

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