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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1992 Feb;19(2):450-7.

Mechanical correlates of the third heart sound.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710.


In seven chronically instrumented conscious dogs, micromanometers measured left ventricular pressure, and ultrasonic dimension transducers measured left ventricular minor-axis diameter; the latter recording was filtered to examine data between 20 and 100 Hz. Acceptable external heart sounds were recorded with a phonocardiographic microphone in four of the seven dogs. With each dog sedated, intubated and mechanically ventilated, data were obtained during hemodynamic alterations produced by volume loading, phenylephrine, calcium infusion and vena caval occlusion. Damped oscillations were noted consistently in the left ventricular diameter waveform toward the end of rapid ventricular filling. These wall vibrations, assessed by the filtered diameter, correlated well with the third heart sound (S3) on the phonocardiogram. The peak frequency of the wall vibrations increased with increased diastolic pressure (p = 0.004), probably reflecting an increase in myocardial wall stiffness. In contrast, the amplitude of the vibrations varied directly with left ventricular filling rate (p = 0.0001). Thus, S3 seemed to be related specifically to ventricular wall vibrations during rapid filling, and the spectra of the amplitude-frequency relation shifted toward the audible range with increases in diastolic pressure, wall stiffness or filling rate. Spectral analysis of S3 may be useful in assessing pathologic changes in myocardial wall properties.

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