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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1988 May;11(5):1010-9.

Reconsideration of echocardiographic standards for mitral valve prolapse: lack of association between leaflet displacement isolated to the apical four chamber view and independent echocardiographic evidence of abnormality.

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  • 1Cardiac Non-Invasive Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.


Mitral valve prolapse by current echocardiographic criteria can be diagnosed with surprising frequency in the general population, even when preselected normal subjects are examined. In most of these individuals, however, prolapse is present in the apical four chamber view and absent in roughly perpendicular long-axis views. Previous studies have shown that systolic annular nonplanarity can cause apparent prolapse in the four chamber view without actual leaflet displacement above the most superior points of the anulus, and there is evidence for such nonplanarity in vivo. It is then reasonable to ask whether superior leaflet displacement limited to the four chamber view has any pathologic significance or complications. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to address the following hypothesis: that patients with superior leaflet displacement confined to the four chamber view have no higher frequency of associated echocardiographic abnormalities than do patients without displacement in any view. Such abnormalities, which would provide independent evidence of mitral valve pathology or dysfunction, include leaflet thickening, left atrial enlargement and mitral regurgitation. Leaflet displacement was measured in the parasternal long-axis and apical four chamber views in 312 patients who were studied retrospectively and selected for the absence of forms of heart disease other than mitral valve prolapse. Leaflet thickness and left atrial size were measured and mitral regurgitation was graded. Patients with leaflet displacement limited to the four chamber view were no more likely to have associated abnormalities than were patients without displacement in any view (0 to 2% prevalence, p greater than 0.5). In contrast, patients with leaflet displacement in the long-axis view were significantly more likely to have associated abnormalities (12 to 24%, p less than 0.005), the frequency of which increased with the extent of leaflet displacement in that view (p less than 0.0001). These results suggest that displacement limited to the apical four chamber view is, in general, a normal geometric finding unassociated with echocardiographic evidence of pathologic significance.

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