Left atrial thrombus – Contrast CT Scan

Left atrial thrombus – Contrast CT ScanLeft atrial thrombus - Contrast CT Scan

Left atrial thrombus – Contrast CT Scan: Contrast is seen filling the left atrium (LA) with a negative shadow (marked by red arrow).  Negative shadow is due to the thrombus in the left atrium (LA thrombus). Circular shadow behind and to the left, seen adjacent the vertebral body is the descending thoracic aorta in cross section (Ao). Chamber anterior and to the right of the left atrium is the right atrium (RA). Large contrast filled chamber anterior and to the left of the left atrium is the left ventricle (LV). Small triangular contrast filled chamber just posterior to the sternum is the right ventricle (RV). Lungs are seen as black structures on either side of the heart due to the air content with low radiodensity. Small contrast filled shadows in the lung fields are the cross sections of branches of pulmonary vessels.

A meta analysis of 9 studies including 1646 patients showed that contrast CT scan has good diagnostic accuracy for detection of left atrial thrombi [1]. The mean sensitivity for diagnosis of left atrial / left atrial appendage thrombus was 81% (95% CI: 70-90%). The mean specificity in the study was  90% (95% CI: 88-91%).


  1. Wu X, Wang C, Zhang C, Zhang Y, Ding F, Yan J. Computed tomography for detecting left atrial thrombus: a meta-analysis. Arch Med Sci. 2012 Dec 20;8(6):943-51.