ObjectivesThe aim of this meta-analysis was to determine the accuracy of transcranial Doppler (TCD) compared with transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) as the reference.
BackgroundRight-to-left shunting (RLS), usually through a patent foramen ovale (PFO), has been associated with migraine, cryptogenic stroke, and hypoxemia. With emerging observational studies and clinical trials on the subject of PFO, there is a need for accurate diagnosis of PFO in patients with these conditions, and those being considered for transcatheter closure. Although a TEE bubble study is the current standard reference for diagnosing PFO, the TCD bubble study may be a preferable alternative test for RLS because of its high sensitivity and specificity, noninvasive nature, and low cost.
MethodsA systematic review of Medline, the Cochrane Library, and Embase was done to look for all the prospective studies assessing intracardiac RLS using TCD compared with TEE as the reference; both tests were performed with a contrast agent and a maneuver to provoke RLS in all studies.
ResultsA total of 27 studies (29 comparisons) with 1,968 patients (mean age 47.8 ± 5.7 years; 51% male) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The weighted mean sensitivity and specificity for TCD were 97% and 93%, respectively. Likewise, the positive and negative likelihood ratios were 13.51 and 0.04, respectively. When 10 microbubbles was used as the embolic cutoff for a positive TCD study, TCD produced a higher specificity compared with when 1 microbubble was used as the cutoff (p = 0.04); there was, however, no significant change in sensitivity (p = 0.29).
ConclusionsTCD is a reliable, noninvasive test with excellent diagnostic accuracies, making it a proficient test for detecting RLS. TCD can be used as a part of the stroke workup and for patients being considered for PFO closure. If knowledge of the precise anatomy is required, then TEE can be obtained before scheduling a patient for transcatheter PFO closure.