Objective: Non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) is frequently complicated by thromboembolism. Left atrial appendage (LAA) flow is a predictor of LAA thrombosis. LAA flow is measured by transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), which is a semi-invasive diagnostic tool. Recently, speckle-tracking methods have been adapted for the evaluation of local cardiac function. We hypothesised that if we could determine LAA wall motion utilising a speckle tracking technique, we could non-invasively analyse LAA flow. Methods: Sixty-three NVAF patients including 38 with chronic atrial fibrillation (CAF), 14 with paroxysmal AF (PAF) and 11 with atrial flutter (AFL) were enrolled in this study. Normal sinus rhythm (NSR) patients with non-thromboembolic cerebral infarction were also included. Immediately after obtaining a 2D movie of the LAA through the aortic oblique short axis view by transthoracic echocardiography, LAA flow velocity was measured by TEE. Mean strains between the posterior and anterior walls were measured using a speckle-tracking technique. Results: Ten patients exhibited a thrombus and 11 had spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) in the auricle. Mean strain value was similar between CAF and PAF, although LAA flow velocity for CAF was significantly reduced compared with PAF (median value 13.7 cm/s versus 36.1 cm/s, p = <.00001). Mean strain of CAF with thrombus/SEC was significantly reduced compared with NSR patients (median value 1.52% versus 3.17%, p =.00181). Furthermore, mean strain was correlated with LAA flow velocity (R = 0.399, R2 = 0.1595, p =.000615). Conclusions: LAA wall strain identified via speckle-tracking methods may presage LAA peak flow velocity. This technique may contribute to stratification of thrombosis risks in the LAA.
- Atrial fibrillation
- left atrial appendage
- speckle tracking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine