Clinical research
Prognostic significance of spontaneous echocardiographic contrast detected by transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography in the era of harmonic imaging
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Submission date: 2010-11-30
Final revision date: 2011-02-23
Acceptance date: 2011-03-23
Online publication date: 2013-11-05
Publication date: 2013-10-31
Arch Med Sci 2013;9(5):808-814
Introduction: Echocardiographic diagnosis of spontaneous intracardiac contrast is the reflection of interactions between erythrocytes and plasma proteins. Underlying conditions are associated with low blood flow velocities in the heart. We sought to determine whether spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) detected in the era of widespread use of harmonic imaging still reflects poor prognosis and risk of thromboembolism.
Material and methods: We retrospectively analyzed the database of a tertiary cardiology centre echocardiographic laboratory and identified 60 patients with SEC, but without solid intracardiac structures, and subsequently selected 60 sex- and age-matched controls without SEC. Data regarding baseline characteristics, treatment and clinical course during follow-up (median: 33.5 months; 95% CI: 24.79–40) were gained based on hospital and out-patient clinic documentation and telephone interviews. The clinical end-points included: all-cause death, cardiovascular death, stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), pulmonary embolism, peripheral embolism and composite thromboembolic end-point.
Results: We observed that in the whole study group (p = 0.0016) and in the subgroup evaluated by TTE (p = 0.005) SEC predicted higher mortality. In the group assessed by TEE, SEC correlated with higher probability of stroke or TIA (p = 0.04). By multivariate analysis, in all patients SEC was a predictor of cardiovascular death (OR = 7.63; p = 0.008) and its localization in the left atrium independently predisposed to thromboembolism (OR = 10.15; p = 0.012). Furthermore, left ventricular SEC detected by TTE also emerged as an independent determinant of higher mortality (OR = 5.26; p = 0.015).
Conclusions: Despite a lower threshold of detection using harmonic imaging SEC is still a risk factor of poor prognosis, especially when observed on transthoracic examination.
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