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Intracardiac Shunts: Diagnosis

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This information was reviewed and approved by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (11/1/2018).

How Is an Intracardiac Shunt Diagnosed?

Patent foramen ovales (PFO) and atrial septal defects (ASD) are often diagnosed by an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram), often with a saline bubble test.

An echocardiogram allows for the visualization of the hole, determination of the direction of the shunt, and estimation of the amount of shunt.

Other imaging tests include: transesophageal echo (TEE), cardiac CT and cardiac MRI (CMR). These may be done if an echocardiogram is inconclusive or if supportive information is required.

Cardiac catheterization (and to a lesser extent, CMR) can be performed to give a more accurate estimation of the degree of shunt when the decision to treat is unclear.

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