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JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2008 Nov;1(6):695-704. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2008.05.014. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

Three-dimensional color Doppler echocardiography for direct measurement of vena contracta area in mitral regurgitation: in vitro validation and clinical experience.

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  • 1The Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



Our goal was to prospectively compare the accuracy of real-time three-dimensional (3D) color Doppler vena contracta (VC) area and two-dimensional (2D) VC diameter in an in vitro model and in the clinical assessment of mitral regurgitation (MR) severity.


Real-time 3D color Doppler allows direct measurement of VC area and may be more accurate for assessment of MR than the conventional VC diameter measurement by 2D color Doppler.


Using a circulatory loop with an incorporated imaging chamber, various pulsatile flow rates of MR were driven through 4 differently sized orifices. In a clinical study of patients with at least mild MR, regurgitation severity was assessed quantitatively using Doppler-derived effective regurgitant orifice area (EROA), and semiquantitatively as recommended by the American Society of Echocardiography. We describe a step-by-step process to accurately identify the 3D-VC area and compare that measure against known orifice areas (in vitro study) and EROA (clinical study).


In vitro, 3D-VC area demonstrated the strongest correlation with known orifice area (r = 0.92, p < 0.001), whereas 2D-VC diameter had a weak correlation with orifice area (r = 0.56, p = 0.01). In a clinical study of 61 patients, 3D-VC area correlated with Doppler-derived EROA (r = 0.85, p < 0.001); the relation was stronger than for 2D-VC diameter (r = 0.67, p < 0.001). The advantage of 3D-VC area over 2D-VC diameter was more pronounced in eccentric jets (r = 0.87, p < 0.001 vs. r = 0.6, p < 0.001, respectively) and in moderate-to-severe or severe MR (r = 0.80, p < 0.001 vs. r = 0.18, p = 0.4, respectively).


Measurement of VC area is feasible with real-time 3D color Doppler and provides a simple parameter that accurately reflects MR severity, particularly in eccentric and clinically significant MR where geometric assumptions may be challenging.

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