Effective aortic regurgitant orifice area: Description of a method based on the conservation of mass

Sharon C. Reimold, Peter Ganz, John A. Bittl, James D. Thomas, David Thoreau, Theodore J. Plappert, Richard T. Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The natural history of aortic regurgitation is incompletely understood in part because of the lack of a simple method to estimate the defect size. A method of determining the effective regurgitant orifice area that combines Doppler catheter and Doppler echocardiographic techniques and is based on the principle of conservation of mass (the continuity equation) is described. To validate the application of the Doppler catheter system for measuring regurgitant supravalvular diastolic flow, an in vitro model of retrograde aortic flow was used. These studies indicated that measurements of supravalvular retrograde velocity with the Doppler catheter accurately reflect retrograde diastolic velocity when the aorta is <4.8 cm in diameter. Twenty-three patients undergoing cardiac catheterization were studied; 20 of these patients had aortic regurgitation. Retrograde supravalvular diastolic velocity was determined from a Doppler catheter positioned above the aortic valve. The effective regurgitant orifice area was calculated with use of the Doppler catheterderived regurgitant volume and mean transvalvular diastolic velocity as determined by either catheterization or continuous wave Doppler echocardiography. The catheterization-derived regurgitant orifice area increased with the angiographic grade of aortic regurgitation as follows: 1+ (0.04 to 0.10 cm2), 2+ (0.15 to 0.49 cm2), 3+ (0.29 to 1.11 cm2) and 4+ (1.24 to 1.33 cm2). By combining Doppler catheter, echocardiographic and cardiac catheterization techniques, the effective aortic regurgitant orifice area may be estimated; this hydrodynamic area correlates with grading by supravalvular aortography. Calculation of this area provides a quantitative alternative to aortography for estimating the severity of aortic regurgitation but should be used with caution in patients with a markedly dilated aorta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-768
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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