Background: Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is the diagnostic modality of choice for visualizing the left atrial appendage (LAA). This study defined the morphology of the LAA in normal autopsy specimen hearts and considered the implications of these findings for TEE studies. Methods and Results: Five hundred normal autopsy hearts were reviewed (25 male and 25 female subjects from each decade for 10 decades). LAA length, width, orifice size, and number of lobes were recorded. Number of lobes was compared between sexes with the rank sum test and regressed against age. Mean length, width, and orifice size increased with age, up to age 20 years, in both sexes. Rates were significantly different between sexes for LAA size (P=.011) and width (P=.006). After age 20, statistically significant but clinically insignificant age-related changes were observed. Fifty-four percent of LAAs had two lobes (range, 1 to 4), with no age or sex differences. Lobes exist in different planes of the heart. Most pectinate muscles were ≤1 mm in width. Pectinate muscles <1 mm (2.6% of cases] were seen in only the first and last decades. Conclusions: Age- and sex-related differences in LAA dimensions exist. These differences and the existence of multilobed appendages are important in the accurate TEE evaluation of LAA. Because lobes exist in different planes, imaging must be done in multiple planes to visualize the entire LAA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)