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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 451042, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/451042
Review Article

Left Atrium by Echocardiography in Clinical Practice: From Conventional Methods to New Echocardiographic Techniques

1Noninvasive Cardiology Unit, Department of Cardiology, Monaldi Hospital, A.O.R.N. dei Colli, Via Leonardo Bianchi, 80131 Naples, Italy
2Monaldi Hospital, A.O.R.N. dei Colli, Via Leonardo Bianchi, 80131 Naples, Italy

Received 12 March 2014; Accepted 27 April 2014; Published 9 June 2014

Academic Editor: Matteo Cameli

Copyright © 2014 Roberta Ancona et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Although often referred to as “the forgotten chamber”, compared with left ventricle (LV), especially in the past years, the left atrium (LA) plays a critical role in the clinical expression and prognosis of patients with heart and cerebrovascular disease, as demonstrated by several studies. Echocardiographers initially focused on early detection of atrial geometrical abnormalities through monodimensional atrial diameter quantification and then bidimensional (2D) areas and volume estimation. Now, together with conventional echocardiographic parameters, new echocardiographic techniques, such as strain Doppler, 2D speckle tracking and three-dimensional (3D) echocardiography, allow assessing early LA dysfunction and they all play a fundamental role to detect early functional remodelling before anatomical alterations occur. LA dysfunction and its important prognostic implications may be detected sooner by LA strain than by volumetric measurements.