Flow Velocity Acceleration in the Left Ventricle: A Useful Doppler Echocardiographic Sign of Hemodynamically Significant Mitral Regurgitation

Christopher P. Appleton, Liv K. Hatle, Ulrich Nellessen, Ingela Schnittger, Richard L. Popp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Doppler echocardiography is a sensitive method to detect mitral regurgitation in patients with both native and prosthetic valves. However, estimates of the amount of mitral regurgitation remain semiquantitative, and even severe mitral regurgitation may be underestimated in the presence of markedly eccentric regurgitant jets or acoustic shadowing of the left atrium by mitral or aortic prostheses. This report describes the Doppler findings in 10 patients with severe native valve mitral regurgitation (angiographic grade III or IV) and in 15 patients with severe bioprosthetic mitral regurgitation that required valve replacement. An increase in peak mitral flow velocity above normal values was seen in eight of 10 patients with severe native valve mitral regurgitation (≥ 130 cm per second) and 11 of 15 patients with severe prosthetic valve mitral regurgitation (≥210 cm per second). One of 10 patients with a native valve and four of 15 patients with a bioprosthetic valve appeared to have only a localized left atrial systolic flow disturbance, incorrectly suggesting that the mitral regurgitation was mild. However, in all patients with severe mitral regurgitation, a low velocity (<100 cm per second) flow signal could be recorded in the left ventricle that was directed toward the mitral valve in systole. This flow signal showed a gradual increase in velocity as the sample volume was moved toward the mitral valve, with an abrupt further increase on entry into the left atrium. This signal was continuous with antegrade mitral flow and had the same orientation as mitral regurgitation recorded by continuous wave technique from the apex. A similar flow signal was not recorded in the left ventricle of any individual in a control group of 30 patients who had no mitral regurgitation or who had angiographic grade I or II mitral regurgitation. These findings suggest that acceleration of left ventricle flow toward the mitral valve in systole is only recorded when there is hemodynamically significant mitral regurgitation that is approximately equal to angiographic grade III or IV. Recognition of this Doppler finding may help in the estimation of mitral regurgitation severity, especially in difficult diagnostic situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society of Echocardiography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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