Objectives. This study was designed to develop a quantitative method of spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) assessment using integrated backscatter and to compare integrated backscatter SEC measurement with independent qualitative grades of SEC and clinical and echocardiographic predictors of thromboembolism. Background. Left atrial SEC refers to dynamic swirling smoke-like echoes that are associated with low flow states and embolic events and have been graded qualitatively as mild or severe. Methods. We performed transesophageal echocardiography in 43 patients and acquired digital integrated backscatter image sequences of the interatrial septum to internally calibrate the left ventricular cavity and left atrial cavity under different gain settings. Patients were independently assessed as having no, mild or severe SEC. We compared intensity of integrated backscatter in the left atrial cavity relative to that in the left ventricular as well as to the independently assessed qualitative grades of SEC. Fourier analysis characterized the temporal variability of SEC. The integrated backscatter was compared with clinical and echocardiographic predictors of thromboembolism. Results. The left atrial cavity integrated backscatter intensity of the mild SEC subgroup was 4.7 dB higher than that from the left ventricular cavity, and the left atrial intensity of the severe SEC subgroup was 12.5 dB higher than that from the left ventricular cavity. The left atrial cavity integrated backscatter intensity correlated well with the qualitative grade. Fourier transforms of SEC integrated backscatter sequences revealed a characteristic dominant low frequency/high amplitude spectrum, distinctive from no SEC. There was a close relationship between integrated backscatter values and atrial fibrillation, left atrial size, left atrial appendage flow velocities and thrombus. Conclusions. Integrated backscatter provides an objective quantitative measure of SEC that correlates well with qualitative grade and is closely associated with clinical and echocardiographic predictors of thromboembolism. The relationship between integrated backscatter measures and cardioembolic risk will be defined in future multicenter studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine