We reviewed the medical records of patients with acute retinal artery obstruction (RAO) and evaluated the importance of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and carotid Doppler ultrasound in determining causes of cardiac and carotid artery origin in RAO. A retrospective case study conducted in the Department of Ophthalmology, Inha University Hospital, Korea comprised 26 patients presenting with acute RAO who underwent systemic evaluation, TTE and carotid Doppler ultrasound between June 1, 1997 and December 31, 2003. Among these 26 patients, abnormal cardiac findings were detected in 12 (46%) and abnormal carotid findings in 4 (15%). Furthermore, other risk factors for RAO were found in 2 (8%) and stroke broke out within 7 months after experiencing RAO in 4 (15%) of the 26 patients. In patients with acute RAO, TTE and carotid Doppler ultrasound play an important role in pinpointing the origins of retinal emboli. It is thought that TTE and carotid Doppler ultrasound may be essential examinations for determining the underlying cause, planning treatment strategies, and preventing stroke and death.
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