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J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 1991 Sep-Oct;4(5):457-64.

Transesophageal echo-Doppler echocardiographic assessment of pulmonary venous flow patterns.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, CA 94305.


Fifty-eight of 61 consecutive patients undergoing transesophageal echo-Doppler echocardiography provided excellent signals to permit assessment of pulmonary venous blood low patterns. Normal antegrade pulmonary venous flow during ventricular systole was biphasic and was characterized by a short, low velocity (28 +/- 17 cm/sec), early systolic jet (P1), and longer, higher velocity (41 +/- 23 cm/sec), late systolic jet (P2). Antegrade pulmonary venous flow during ventricular diastole (P3) was of moderate velocity (34 +/- 17 cm/sec) and was monophasic; during atrial contraction there was transient, low velocity (-17 +/- 11 cm/sec) and reversal of flow (P4). The early systolic antegrade venous flow (P1) was absent or reversed in rhythm disorders, which interrupted normal synchronized atrioventricular activation. These rhythm disorders also were associated with diminished peak flow velocities during late systole (P2). Abnormalities in systolic left ventricular function and mitral regurgitation also had this effect. Diastolic flow velocities (P3) remained constant, except in patients with mitral regurgitation. In these patients diastolic peak flows were significantly increased above normal. In cases of atrial fibrillation or ventricular pacing the late diastolic reversal of flow resulting from atrial contraction (P4) was absent.


Transesophageal echo-Doppler echocardiography gives high quality signals of pulmonary venous inflow to help assess function of the left ventricle and left atrium. Multiple factors affect the patterns. This study suggests caution in the interpretation of abnormal patterns, particularly of reduced systolic pulmonary vein flow in the presence of left ventricular dysfunction, atrial fibrillation, ventricular pacing, and mitral regurgitation.

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