With use of transesophageal echocardiography, the short-term effects of transthoracic electrical cardioversion of atrial flutter (AFl) on atrial mechanical function and spontaneous echo contrast were determined. Thirty patients who had AFl for a mean of 6.4 ± 12.2 months underwent transthoracic cardioversion. A transesophageal echocardiogram was recorded immediately before cardioversion, and left atrial appendage emptying velocity and spontaneous contrast were assessed serially at 1, 3, and 5 minutes after cardioversion in 28 patients, and also at 8, 10, and 15 minutes after cardioversion in a subgroup of 13 patients. Cardioversion was deferred in 2 patients (7%) because a thrombus was found in the left atrial appendage. Before cardioversion, spontaneous contrast was present in the left atrium in 7 of 28 patients (25%) who underwent cardioversion. The mean left atrial appendage emptying velocity of 54 ± 22 cm/s before cardioversion fell by 26% to 40 ± 25 cm/s at 1 minute after restoration of sinus rhythm (p <0.01). There were no significant changes in the mean left atrial appendage-emptying velocity between 1 and 15 minutes after cardioversion. Within 5 minutes after conversion to sinus rhythm, left atrial spontaneous echo contrast developed de novo or worsened in 12 of the 28 patients (43%). In conclusion, the results of this study demonstrate that persistent AFl may be associated with left atrial thrombi before cardioversion and that cardioversion of AFl is associated with a significant degree of atrial stunning and formation of spontaneous echo contrast.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine