To assess the value of combined transesophageal echocardiography (TE) and transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in the preoperative evaluation of atrial septal defect (ASD) 59 consecutive patients (aged 15-62, mean 38 yrs) with clinically or echocardiographically suspected ASD underwent TE and complete noninvasive hemodynamic study by TTE. ASD was found by TE in 48: fossa ovalis (FO) type in 36, sinus venosus (SV) type in 11 and primum type in 1. For FO and SV defect the sensitivity of clinical judgement was 83 and 0%, the specificity 39 and 100% resp., the sensitivity of TTE was 78 and 9%, the specificity 78 and 100%. The most frequently associated anomaly by TE was mitral valve prolapse (25%). SV defect was always associated with anomalous right upper pulmonary venous drainage, and left superior vena cava was found in 27% of SV defects. There was significant correlation between Qp/Qs measured by TTE and by catheterization (r = 0.64), but the Qp/Qs was not related to defect size. An excellent correlation was found between pulmonary artery systolic pressure measured by CW Doppler and catheterization (r = 0.98).
1) TTE combined with TE is reliable in the preoperative assessment of ASD in adults, 2) TE is not necessary if there are unequivocal clinical and TTE signs of an FO defect with significant left-to-right shunt, 3) TE is indicated in patients with signs of right ventricular overload or pulmonary hypertension if an ASD cannot be ruled out by TTE, 4) catheterization is necessary if all 4 pulmonary veins cannot be visualized by TE.
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