Relationship between left atrial appendage morphology and stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation

Irfan M. Khurram, Jane Dewire, Michael Mager, Farhan Maqbool, Stefan L. Zimmerman, Vadim Zipunnikov, Roy Beinart, Joseph E. Marine, David D. Spragg, Ronald D. Berger, Hiroshi Ashikaga, Saman Nazarian, Hugh Calkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Background Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an important cause of stroke. Given the morbidity and mortality associated with stroke, the risk stratification of patients based on left atrial appendage (LAA) characteristics is of great interest. Objective To explore the association between LAA morphology and LAA characteristics including the extent of trabeculations, orifice diameter, and length with prevalent stroke in a large cohort of patients with drug refractory AF who underwent AF ablation to develop mechanistic insight regarding the risk of stroke. Methods An institutional cohort of 1063 patients referred for AF ablation from 2003 to 2012 was reviewed to identify patients that underwent preprocedural cardiac computed tomography (CT). LAA morphology was characterized as chicken wing, cactus, windsock, or cauliflower by using previously reported methodology. Left atrial size and LAA trabeculations, morphology, orifice diameter, and length were compared between patients with prevalent stroke and patients without prevalent stroke. Results Of 678 patients with CT images, 65 (10%) had prior stroke or transient ischemic attack. In univariate analyses, prevalent heart failure (7.7% in cases vs 2.8% in controls; P =.033), smaller LAA orifice (2.26 ± 0.52 cm vs 2.78 ± 0.71 cm; P <.001), shorter LAA length (5.06 ± 1.17 cm vs 5.61 ± 1.17 cm; P <.001), and extensive LAA trabeculations (27.7% vs 14.4%; P =.019) were associated with stroke. LAA morphologies were unassociated with stroke risk. In multivariable analysis, smaller LAA orifice diameter and extensive LAA trabeculations remained independently associated with thromboembolic events. Conclusions The extent of LAA trabeculations and smaller LAA orifice diameter are associated with prevalent stroke and may mediate the previously described association of cauliflower LAA morphology with stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1843-1849
Number of pages7
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • CT
  • Computed tomography
  • Left atrial appendage morphology
  • Stroke
  • Thromboembolism
  • Trabeculations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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