Transthoracic echocardiography for the diagnosis of left ventricular thrombosis in the postoperative care unit

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INTRODUCTION: Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is a reliable, noninvasive imaging method that is useful in the evaluation of cardiovascular thrombosis. We conducted a retrospective study of all the echocardiograms from patients in the postoperative care unit to assess the role of TTE in thrombus identification in the left ventricle.<br /><br />METHODS: This retrospective database evaluation included all echocardiograms during a 14-month period. The echocardiographic examination protocol included the subcostal four-chamber view, the apical four-chamber view, the apical two-chamber view and the parasternal view, along the long and short axes in both spontaneously and mechanically ventilated patients. All echocardiograms were obtained within the 48 hours immediately following surgery.<br /><br />RESULTS: In total, 160 postoperative echocardiograms were obtained from 160 patients and resulted in the detection of five cases of left ventricular thrombosis. Subgroup analysis showed that 21 and 35 of the 160 patients examined had either dilated or ischemic cardiomyopathy, respectively. In these patients, preoperative echocardiograms had been obtained recently prior to surgery and were negative for left ventricular thrombus. In three of 35 patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy and two of 21 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, thrombus was identified in the left ventricle. The thrombi were mobile, uncalcified and pedunculated and were located in the apex of the left ventricle. In addition, no clinical consequences of the left ventricular thrombi were recorded.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Low-flow conditions in heart chambers due to ischemic or dilated cardiomyopathy in conjunction with the hypercoagulability caused by perioperative prothrombotic factors may lead to thrombotic events in the left ventricle.




Saranteas, T., Alevizou, A., Tzoufi, M., Panou, F., & Kostopanagiotou, G. (2011). Transthoracic echocardiography for the diagnosis of left ventricular thrombosis in the postoperative care unit. Critical Care, 15(1).

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