Stroke and Echocardiography

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Association of Atrial Septal Aneurysms with Cerebrovascular Events:

Recurrent cerebrovascular events associated with patent foramen ovale, atrial septal aneurysm, or both.
Mas JL, Arquizan C, Lamy C, Zuber M, Cabanes L, Derumeaux G, Coste J; Patent Foramen Ovale and Atrial Septal Aneurysm Study Group.
N Engl J Med 2001 Dec 13;345(24):1740-6
Department of Neurology, Sainte-Anne Hospital, Paris V University, Paris, France.
BACKGROUND: Patent foramen ovale and atrial septal aneurysm have been identified as potential risk factors for stroke, but information about their effect on the risk of recurrent stroke is limited. We studied the risks of recurrent cerebrovascular events associated with these cardiac abnormalities. METHODS: A total of 581 patients (age, 18 to 55 years) who had had an ischemic stroke of unknown origin within the preceding three months were consecutively enrolled at 30 neurology departments. All patients received aspirin (300 mg per day) for secondary prevention. RESULTS: After four years, the risk of recurrent stroke was 2.3 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 0.3 to 4.3 percent) among the patients with patent foramen ovale alone, 15.2 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 1.8 to 28.6 percent) among the patients with both patent foramen ovale and atrial septal aneurysm, and 4.2 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 1.8 to 6.6 percent) among the patients with neither of these cardiac abnormalities. There were no recurrences among the patients with an atrial septal aneurysm alone. The presence of both cardiac abnormalities was a significant predictor of an increased risk of recurrent stroke (hazard ratio for the comparison with the absence of these abnormalities, 4.17; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.47 to 11.84), whereas isolated patent foramen ovale, whether small or large, was not. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with both patent foramen ovale and atrial septal aneurysm who have had a stroke constitute a subgroup at substantial risk for recurrent stroke, and preventive strategies other than aspirin should be considered.

Low incidence of embolic strokes with atrial septal aneurysms: A prospective, long-term study
Burger AJ; Sherman HB; Charlamb MJ
Am Heart J 2000 Jan;139(1 Pt 1):149-52
BACKGROUND: Previous retrospective studies have suggested that atrial septal aneurysms (ASA) are associated with embolic strokes. The purpose of this study was to evaluate prospectively the embolic potential of ASA. METHODS: Of 846 consecutive patients undergoing cardiac surgery from December 1990 to March 1993, we identified 42 patients who had ASA as an incidental finding on intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography. Patency was determined by color and/or contrast echocardiography. The majority of patients were given aspirin postoperatively. Patients were monitored by personal and/or telephone interviews, and their clinical conditions were confirmed by their personal physicians. Any patient with any question of a neurologic event had a detailed neurologic history, examination, and computed tomographic or magnetic resonance imaging scan. RESULTS: The incidence of ASA in our population was 4.9%; there were 22 men and 20 women with a mean age of 72 years. Oscillating ASA were present in 28 patients and fixed aneurysm in 10. The mean diameter of the ASA was 21 +/- 4 mm. Eighteen (56%) of 32 patients had a patent ASA. Patients were monitored for a mean period of 69.5 months (56 to 85 months). No patient had a cerebrovascular event or systemic embolization. CONCLUSION: The risk of cerebrovascular events or embolic strokes in our patient population with incidental ASA was low. If treatment is needed for this condition, aspirin appears to be effective therapy.

Mugge A. Daniel WG. Angermann C. Spes C. Khandheria BK. Kronzon I. Freedberg RS. Keren A. Denning K. Engberding R. et al.
Atrial septal aneurysm in adult patients. A multicenter study using transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography
Circulation. 91(11):2785-92, 1995 Jun 1.
BACKGROUND: An atrial septal aneurysm (ASA) is a well-recognized abnormality of uncertain clinical relevance. We reevaluated the clinical significance of ASA in a large series of patients. The aims of the study were to define morphological characteristics of ASA by transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), to define the incidence of ASA-associated abnormalities, and to investigate whether certain morphological characteristics of ASA are different in patients with and without previous events compatible with cardiogenic embolism. METHODS AND RESULTS: Patients with ASA were enrolled from 11 centers between May 1989 and October 1993. All patients had to undergo transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography within 24 hours of each other; ASA was defined as a protrusion of the aneurysm > 10 mm beyond the plane of the atrial septum as measured by TEE. Patients with mitral stenosis or prosthesis or after cardiothoracic surgery involving the atrial septum were excluded. Based on these criteria, 195 patients 54.6 +/- 16.0 years old (mean +/- SD) were included in this study. Whereas TEE could visualize the region of the atrial septum and therefore diagnose ASA in all patients, ASA defined by TEE was missed by transthoracic echocardiography in 92 patients (47%). As judged from TEE, ASA involved the entire septum in 100 patients (51%) and was limited to the fossa ovalis in 95 (49%). ASA was an isolated structural defect in 62 patients (32%). In 106 patients (54%), ASA was associated with interatrial shunting (atrial septal defect, n = 38; patent foramen ovale, n = 65; sinus venosus defect, n = 3). In only 2 patients (1%), thrombi attached to the region of the ASA were noted. Prior clinical events compatible with cardiogenic embolism were associated with 87 patients (44%) with ASA; in 21 patients (24%) with prior presumed cardiogenic embolism, no other potential cardiac sources of embolism were present. Length of ASA, extent of bulging, and incidence of spontaneous oscillations were similar in patients with and without previous cardiogenic embolism; however, associated abnormalities such as atrial shunts were significantly more frequent in patients with possible embolism. CONCLUSIONS: As shown previously, TEE is superior to the transthoracic approach in the diagnosis of ASA. The most common abnormalities associated with ASA are interatrial shunts, in particular patent foramen ovale. In this retrospective study, patients with ASA (especially with shunts) showed a high frequency of previous clinical events compatible with cardiogenic embolism; in a significant subgroup of patients, ASA appears to be the only source of embolism, as judged by TEE. Our data are consistent with the view that ASA is a risk factor for cardiogenic embolism, but thrombi attached to ASA as detected by TEE are apparently rare.

Cabanes L. Mas JL. Cohen A. Amarenco P. Cabanes PA. Oubary P. Chedru F. Guerin F. Bousser MG. de Recondo J.
Atrial septal aneurysm and patent foramen ovale as risk factors for cryptogenic stroke in patients less than 55 years of age. A study using transesophageal echocardiography.
Stroke. 24(12):1865-73, 1993 Dec.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: An association between atrial septal aneurysm and embolic events has been suggested. Atrial septal aneurysm has been shown to be associated with patent foramen ovale and, in some reports, with mitral valve prolapse. These two latter cardiac disorders have been identified as potential risk factors for ischemic stroke. The aim of this prospective study was to assess the role of atrial septal aneurysm as an independent risk factor for stroke, especially for cryptogenic stroke. METHODS: We studied the prevalence of atrial septal aneurysm, patent foramen ovale, and mitral valve prolapse in 100 consecutive patients < 55 years of age with ischemic stroke who underwent extensive etiological investigations. We compared these results with those in a control group of 50 consecutive patients. The diagnosis of atrial septal aneurysm and patent foramen ovale relied on transesophageal echocardiography with a contrast study and that of mitral valve prolapse, on two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography. RESULTS: Stepwise logistic regression analysis showed that atrial septal aneurysm (odds ratio, 4.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.3 to 14.6; P = .01) and patent foramen ovale (odds ratio, 3.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.5 to 10; P = .003) but not mitral valve prolapse were significantly associated with the diagnosis of cryptogenic stroke. The stroke odds of a patient with both atrial septal aneurysm and patent foramen ovale were 33.3 times (95% confidence interval, 4.1 to 270) the stroke odds of a patient with neither of these cardiac disorders. For a patient with atrial septal aneurysm of > 10-mm excursion, the stroke odds were approximately 8 times the stroke odds of a patient with atrial septal aneurysm of < 10 mm. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that atrial septal aneurysm and patent foramen ovale are both significantly associated with cryptogenic stroke and that their association has a marked synergistic effect. Atrial septal aneurysms of > 10-mm excursion are associated with a higher risk of stroke.

Pearson AC. Nagelhout D. Castello R. Gomez CR. Labovitz AJ.
Atrial septal aneurysm and stroke: a transesophageal echocardiographic study.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 18(5):1223-9, 1991 Nov 1.
The prevalence and morphologic characteristics of atrial septal aneurysms identified by transesophageal echocardiography in 410 consecutive patients are described. Two groups of patients were compared: Group I consisted of 133 patients referred for evaluation of the potential source of an embolus and Group II consisted of 277 patients referred for other reasons. An atrial septal aneurysm was diagnosed by transesophageal echocardiography in 32 (8%) of the 410 patients. Surface echocardiography identified only 12 of these aneurysms. Atrial septal aneurysm was significantly more common in patients with stroke (20 [15%] of 133 vs. 12 [4%] of 277) (p less than 0.05); right to left shunting at the atrial level was demonstrated in 70% of patients in Group I and 75% of patients in Group II by saline contrast echocardiography. Four patients in Group I had an atrial septal defect with additional left to right flow. There was no difference between the two groups in aneurysm base width, total excursion or left atrial or right atrial excursion. However, Group I patients had a thinner atrial septal aneurysm than did Group II patients. It is concluded that an atrial septal aneurysm occurs commonly in patients with unexplained stroke, is more frequently detected by transesophageal echocardiography than by surface echocardiography and is usually associated with right to left atrial shunting. Treatment (anticoagulant therapy vs. surgery) of atrial septal aneurysm identified in stroke patients can be determined only by long-term follow-up studies.

Belkin RN. Hurwitz BJ. Kisslo J.
Atrial septal aneurysm: association with cerebrovascular and peripheral embolic events.
Stroke. 18(5):856-62, 1987 Sep-Oct.
Patient records in 36 consecutively identified patients with typical echocardiographic findings of atrial septal aneurysm were reviewed. Ten of the 36 (28%) had cerebrovascular events. Of these 10, 5 had completed strokes of definite embolic origin on the basis of clinical, angiographic, and computed tomographic findings; 2 had transient ischemic attacks of probable embolic origin. One of the 36 patients had a definite peripheral vascular embolus. Thus, 6 of 36 consecutively identified patients with atrial septal aneurysm (17%) had definite embolic events and 8 of 36 (22%) had definite or possible embolic events. The cause of the association between atrial septal aneurysm and emboli is unknown. While aneurysm-associated thrombus has been suggested, the high proportion (90%) of patients with interatrial shunting demonstrated by contrast echocardiography in this study suggests paradoxical embolization as a potential cause. Whatever its mechanism, the high prevalence of embolic events in this series strongly supports the premise that atrial septal aneurysm is a cardiac abnormality with embolic potential.

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