Aims: The aim of our study was to evaluate the prevalence of left atrial cavity and appendage thrombosis in patients undergoing cardioversion for non-valvular atrial tachyarrhythmias. In persistent atrial tachyarrhythmias, 90% of thromboses are reported to be located inside the left atrial appendage. This prevalence refers to old studies and meta-analysis in a mixed population of valvular and non-valvular atrial fibrillation. Left atrial cavity thrombosis in non-valvular atrial fibrillation has not been investigated recently in large-scale studies.
Methods and results: A total of 1,420 consecutive adult patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial tachyarrhythmias, candidates to cardioversion, who opted for a transoesophageal echocardiography-guided strategy, were enrolled in the study. Mitral stenosis, rheumatic valve disease and mechanical prostheses were excluded. In total there were 91 thrombi in 87 patients with a prevalence of 6.13% (87/1,420). Patients with left atrial thrombosis had predisposing clinical and echo characteristics (heart failure, lower ventricular function and higher atrial volume). Except for one case in which the thrombus was located in the left atrial cavity (0.07%), and three in the right appendage, all thromboses were detected in the left atrial appendage.
Conclusions: Extra-appendage thrombosis is a very rare finding in non-valvular persistent and paroxysmal atrial tachyarrhythmias and, when present, a left appendage thrombus is usually concomitant.