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Am J Cardiol. 1994 Feb 1;73(4):268-74.

Color-coded Doppler imaging of the vena contracta as a basis for quantification of pure mitral regurgitation.

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Department of Cardiology, University of Bonn, Germany.


The narrowest central flow region of a jet is defined as the vena contracta. This term is applied also to the contracted zone of the Doppler color flow image of a jet at its passage through an incompetent mitral valve. The clinical applicability of measuring the size of the vena contracta by transthoracic color-coded Doppler echocardiography for estimating the severity of mitral regurgitation (MR) was evaluated. In 78 of 82 patients with angiographically proved MR, a coherent flow image across the valve was visualized. The maximal diameter in the apical long-axis view was considered as a representative value for the size of the vena contracta. In comparison with the maximal left atrial velocity pixel area, this parameter revealed higher correlations to the angiographic degree of MR and to the regurgitant volume (r = 0.94 vs 0.72, and 0.83 vs 0.71, respectively). The highest positive and negative predictive accuracies for differentiating mild-to-moderate from severe MR were determined for a diameter of 6.5 mm (88 and 96%, respectively). Because the vena contracta is directly related to the severity of MR, it is concluded that it is helpful to use this parameter instead of the maximal velocity pixel area for semiquantitative grading.

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