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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Atrial septal aneurysm in adult patients. A multicenter study using transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography.

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.[1]


  1. Atrial septal aneurysm in adult patients. A multicenter study using transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography. Mügge, A., Daniel, W.G., Angermann, C., Spes, C., Khandheria, B.K., Kronzon, I., Freedberg, R.S., Keren, A., Denning, K., Engberding, R. Circulation (1995) [Pubmed]
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