ECHO, MRI combo useful in detecting strokes

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John Sheehan, MD, of Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago described a 106-patient study of individuals with suspected cardioembolic stroke at the 2007 SIR meeting. A combined echocardiography (ECHO) and MRI approach was demonstrated to detect more potential causes of cardioembolic stroke than using either method alone.
The purpose of the study was to compare the diagnostic accuracy using cardiovascular MR (CVMR) techniques with the diagnostic accuracy achieved using transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography to detect intracardiac thrombi in patients with suspected cardioembolic stroke.

ECHO (both transthoracic and transesophageal) was better at detecting shunts and bacterial growths on prosthetic valves, while MRI was better at detecting more clots. Sheehan noted that combining the two modalities improved detection and treatment of embolic source, which will likely improve secondary prevention of subsequent strokes in this high-risk patient group.