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October 1996

Transthoracic Echocardiographic Findings in Patients With Acute Retinal Arterial ObstructionA Retrospective Review

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(10):1189-1192. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100140389004

Objective:  To assess the importance of cardio-embolic (emboli of cardiac origin) risk stratification in the cardiac evaluation of patients with acute retinal arterial obstruction.

Design:  A multicenter retrospective study of patients with acute retinal arterial obstruction who underwent trans-thoracic echocardiography.

Settings:  Four North American hospital centers.

Patients:  One hundred patients with acute retinal artery obstruction in whom transthoracic echocardiography was performed.

Main Outcome Measure:  Anticoagulation or cardiac surgery based on abnormalities detected on transthoracic echocardiography. Transesophageal echocardiographic results were not evaluated, as they were rarely performed in our centers. Thus, the outcome measure was determined solely by the results of transthoracic echocardiography.

Results:  Patients were divided into high- and low-risk groups based on their history of cardioembolic risk factors or the presence of a cardiac murmur. Of 67 patients with no risk factors, 41 (61%) had normal echocardiographic study results and 26 (39%) had abnormalities detected, of whom only 1 (1.5%) received anticoagulation or cardiac surgery. The presence of 1 or more cardioembolic risk factors increased the likelihood for anticoagulation or cardiac surgery 25 times (odds ratio=25; 95% confidence interval=3.04-217.02). Although this result is clinically and statistically significant, it is possible that abnormalities missed by transthoracic methods may have been detected by transesophageal technology.

Conclusions:  In patients with acute retinal arterial obstruction at low cardioembolic risk, transthoracic echocardiography resulted in anticoagulation or cardiac surgery in 1 (1.5%) of 67 patients. Routine transthoracic echocardiography without follow-up transesophageal echocardiography for patients identified as having abnormalities such as left ventricular hypertrophy or mitral annular calcification and who are at low cardioembolic risk rarely resulted in anticoagulation or cardiac surgery.