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Circulation. 1989 Sep;80(3):589-98.

Three-dimensional echocardiographic reconstruction of the mitral valve, with implications for the diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse.

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Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


Mitral valve prolapse has been diagnosed by two-dimensional echocardiographic criteria with surprising frequency in the general population, even when preselected normal subjects are examined. In most of these individuals, however, prolapse appears in the apical four-chamber view and is absent in roughly orthogonal long-axis views. Previous studies of in vitro models with nonplanar rings have shown that systolic mitral annular nonplanarity can potentially produce this discrepancy. However, to prove directly that apparent leaflet displacement in a two-dimensional view does not constitute true displacement above the three-dimensional annulus requires reconstruction of the entire mitral valve, including leaflets and annulus. Such reconstruction would also be necessary to explore the complex geometry of the valve and to derive volumetric measures of superior leaflet displacement. A technique was therefore developed and validated in vitro for three-dimensional reconstruction of the entire mitral valve. In this technique, simultaneous real-time acquisition of images and their spatial locations permits reconstruction of a localized structure by minimizing the effects of patient motion and respiration. By applying this method to 15 normal subjects, a coherent mitral valve surface could be reconstructed from intersecting scans. The results confirm mitral annular nonplanarity in systole, with a maximum deviation of 1.4 +/- 0.3 cm from planarity. They directly show that leaflets can appear to ascend above the mitral annulus in the apical four-chamber view, as they did in at least one view in all subjects, without actual leaflet displacement above the entire mitral valve in three dimensions, thereby challenging the diagnosis of prolapse by isolated four-chamber view displacement in otherwise normal individuals. This technique allows us to address a uniquely three-dimensional problem with high resolution and provide new information previously unavailable from the two-dimensional images. This new appreciation should enhance our ability to ask appropriate clinical questions relating mitral valve shape and leaflet displacement to clinical and pathologic consequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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