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The prevalence of left atrial thrombus in patients undergoing cardioversion or catheter ablation despite at least 3 weeks of anticoagulation was reviewed. Persistent atrial fibrillation, CHA2DS2-VASc scores ≥3, and the need for cardioversion as predictors of left atrial thrombus on transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) were identified.
Patients with certain baseline characteristics may benefit from preprocedural TEE despite prior anticoagulation.
The prevalence of left atrial (LA) thrombus in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter (AFL) on guideline-directed anticoagulation is not well known, yet this may inform transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) use before cardioversion or catheter ablation.
The purpose of this study was to quantify LA thrombus prevalence among patients with AF/AFL on guideline-directed anticoagulation and to identify high-risk subgroups.
EMBASE, MEDLINE, and CENTRAL were systematically searched from inception to July 2020 for studies reporting on LA thrombus prevalence among patients with AF/AFL undergoing TEE following at least 3 weeks of continuous therapeutic oral anticoagulation with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) or direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs). Meta-analysis was performed using random effects models.
Thirty-five studies describing 14,653 patients were identified. The mean-weighted LA thrombus prevalence was 2.73% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.95% to 3.80%). LA thrombus prevalence was similar for VKA- and DOAC-treated patients (2.80%; 95% CI: 1.86% to 4.21% vs. 3.12%; 95% CI: 1.92% to 5.03%; p = 0.674). Patients with nonparoxysmal AF/AFL had a 4-fold higher LA thrombus prevalence compared with paroxysmal patients (4.81%; 95% CI: 3.35% to 6.86% vs. 1.03%; 95% CI: 0.52% to 2.03%; p < 0.001). LA thrombus prevalence was higher among patients undergoing cardioversion versus ablation (5.55%; 95% CI: 3.15% to 9.58% vs. 1.65%; 95% CI: 1.07% to 2.53%; p < 0.001). Patients with CHA2DS2-VASc scores ≥3 had a higher LA thrombus prevalence compared with patients with scores ≤2 (6.31%; 95% CI: 3.72% to 10.49% vs. 1.06%; 95% CI: 0.45% to 2.49%; p < 0.001).
LA thrombus prevalence is high in subgroups of anticoagulated patients with AF/AFL, who may benefit from routine pre-procedural TEE use before cardioversion or catheter ablation.