Transcranial doppler ultrasonography should it be the first choice for persistent foramen ovale screening?
Persistent foramen ovale (PFO) is considered a cause of cryptogenic stroke and a risk factor for neurological events in young patients. The reference standard for identifying a PFO is contrast-enhanced transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). The goal of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of transcranial color Doppler (TCD) and its diagnostic sensitivity compared with TEE. Methods: We investigated 420 patients admitted to our department with cryptogenic stroke, transient ischemic attacks
... or other neurological symptoms. All patients underwent TCD and TEE evaluation. TCD and TEE examinations were performed according to a standardized procedure: air-mixed saline was injected into the right antecubital vein three times, while the Doppler signal was recorded during the Valsalva maneuver. During TCD the passage of contrast into the right-middle cerebral artery was recorded 25 seconds following the Valsalva maneuver. Results: We detected a right-to-left shunt in 220 patients (52.3%) and no-shunts in 159 patients (37.9%) with both TCD and TEE. In 20 (4.8%) patients TEE did not reveal contrast passage which was then detected by TCD. In 21 (5.0%) patients only TEE revealed a PFO. The feasibility of both methods was 100%. TCD had a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 92% in the diagnosis of PFO. Conclusions: TCD has a relatively good sensitivity and specificity. TCD and TEE are complementary diagnostic tests for PFO, but TCD should be recommended as the first choice for screening because of its simplicity, non-invasive character, low cost and high feasibility.