Transthoracic echocardiography for precardioversion screening during atrial flutter/fibrillation in young patients

M. Silvana Horenstein, Peter P. Karpawich, Michael L. Epstein, Tajinder P. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is reliable for detection of thrombi in the left ventricle and right atrium, but not in the left atrial appendage. Therefore, transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is routinely performed in adults prior to electric cardioversion for atrial flutter/fibrillation (AFF). Whether young survivors of congenital heart disease repair with AFF need routine TEE prior to electric cardioversion is unknown. Hypothesis: Electric cardioversion for AFF is safe in survivors of congenital heart disease repair/palliation if an intracardiac thrombus is not suspected on TTE imaging. Methods: This study reports the outcome of patients in a pediatric tertiary care cardiac unit where electric cardioversion was performed if no intracardiac thrombus was suspected on TTE. We performed a retrospective chart review of all patients treated with electric cardioversion for AFF at Children's Hospital of Michigan during 1997-2002 Results: Of 35 patients who presented with 110 episodes of AFF requiring electric cardioversion during the study duration, 32 (age 3 months-49 years, median age 20.5 years, 104 AFF episodes) had previously undergone palliative surgery or repair of their congenital heart disease. Of these 32 patients, 18 were survivors of a Fontan palliation (for a single-ventricle variant) and the remaining 14 were survivors of other defects and repairs (septal defects, valve replacements, and tetralogy of Fallot). During 81% of the episodes, patients were receiving aspirin, warfarin, or heparin for anticoagulation at presentation. Transthoracic echocardiography was performed in 74 AFF episodes; of these, 10 TTE studies were suspicious for atrial thrombi. Transesophageal echocardiography confirmed the presence of a thrombus in 3 of these 10 patients. These patients received warfarin for 2 weeks and then underwent electric cardioversion. No thromboembolic events occurred immediately after or on follow-up in any patient. Conclusions: These findings suggest that TTE may be an effective imaging tool for precardioversion screening in young patients with AFF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-416
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Cardiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial flutter
  • Cardioversion
  • Echocardiography
  • Intracardiac thrombi


Dive into the research topics of 'Transthoracic echocardiography for precardioversion screening during atrial flutter/fibrillation in young patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this