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What is Clinical Efficacy of Transesophageal Echocardiography in Patients With Cryptogenic Stroke?: A Critically Appraised Topic

Christiansen, Michael E. MD*; Van Woerkom, Ryan C. MD; Demaerschalk, Bart M. MD*; Wingerchuk, Dean M. MD*; O’Carroll, Cumara B. MD*

doi: 10.1097/NRL.0000000000000155
Critically Appraised Topics

Background: Adults with cryptogenic stroke often undergo transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) because this is the gold-standard for evaluation of potential proximal sources of emboli. The risks of performing this invasive test must be weighed against its clinical efficacy and limitations, determined by the rate of positive findings, and the impact on clinical outcome for the patient.

Objective: To critically appraise current evidence regarding the rate of positive TEE findings in cryptogenic stroke patients, and analyze the implications of these findings on management decisions and outcomes.

Methods: The objective was addressed through the development of a structured, critically appraised topic. We incorporated a clinical scenario, background information, a structured question, literature search strategy, critical appraisal, results, evidence summary, commentary, and bottom line conclusions. Participants included consultant and resident neurologists, a medical librarian, and vascular neurology and cardiology content experts.

Results: TEE commonly identifies abnormalities, including aorta atherosclerosis in 51%, patent foramen ovale in 43%, and atrial septal aneurysm in 13% of patients. Findings such as left-sided chamber thrombus or intracardiac tumor that definitively warrant a change in management by guideline-supported use of anticoagulation are less common, occurring in ∼3% of patients.

Conclusions: TEE identifies potential causal sources of embolus in patients with cryptogenic stroke that leads to changes in management and outcomes at least 3% of the time. Other findings, particularly aorta atherosclerosis, are identified much more commonly but the causal link to stroke is uncertain, thus changes in management in these cases is variable and data describing resulting outcomes are lacking.

*Department of Neurology

Department of Cardiology, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Michael E. Christiansen, MD, Mayo Clinic Arizona, 13400 Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, 85259 AZ. E-mail: christiansen.michael@mayo.edu.

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