Hydrodynamic compression of the right atrium: a new echocardiographic sign of cardiac tamponade
The relationship of right atrial inversion, a previously undescribed cross-sectional echocardiographic sign, to the presence of cardiac tamponade was examined. We studied 127 patients with moderate or large pericardial effusions. Cardiac tamponade was present in 19 and absent in 104. Four patients with equivocal tamponade were excluded from analysis. Right atrial inversion was present in 19 of 19 patients with cardiac tamponade and 19 of 104 without cardiac tamponade (sensitivity, 100%;
... vity, 100%; specificity, 82%; predictive value, 50%). The degree of inversion as quantitated by the area-corrected curvature did not improve the ability to discriminate between patients with and without cardiac tamponade. However, consideration of the duration of inversion by the right atrial inversion time index (duration of inversion/cardiac cycle length) and an empirically derived cut-off of 0.34 did improve the specificity and predictive value (100% and 100%, respectively) without a significant loss of sensitivity (94%). We conclude that right atrial inversion, particularly if prolonged, is a useful echocardiographic marker of cardiac tamponade that may be of particular diagnostic value when the clinical picture is unclear.