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Cardiac Imaging

E2397. A Study in Gray: Uncovering the Mysteries of the Left Atrium

Hira B,  Thomas M,  Yamamoto S,  Roth A,  Lee M. Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar, CA

Address correspondence to B. Hira (

Background Information: Left atrial findings are often caught incidentally on routine chest and abdomen studies, and their diagnosis and clinical significance can be baffling to radiologists who do not routinely read cardiac imaging. We present a spectrum of cases through various imaging modalities (plain radiography, CT, MRI, ultrasound, and echocardiography) that represent a wide array of benign and malignant disorders of the left atrium, consisting of conditions related to masses, congenital disorders, calcifications, thrombus, normal structures, and artifacts.

Educational Goals/Teaching Points: After reviewing this exhibit, participants will be able to identify common disorders of the left atrium, congenital defects, and benign and malignant findings of the left atrium on different types of imaging modalities. Participants will learn how to appropriately manage the findings.

Key Anatomic/Physiologic Issues and Imaging Findings/Techniques: This exhibit will briefly review the embryology of the left atrium with respect to common disorders that affect this cardiac chamber and how they manifest on images. All the conditions presented will be identified using images from plain radiographs, CT scans, MR images, ultrasound, and echocardiograms. This presentation will provide techniques to detect common disorders and determine if they are likely to be benign or malignant and how to manage the findings.

Conclusion: Both clinically significant and insignificant findings of the left atrium are being increasingly recognized because of improved spatial resolution on imaging. Characteristics of these disorders should be detected on routine imaging so that an appropriate clinical recommendation can be made.