In 15 patients with pure or predominant mitral stenosis and in a control group of 11 patients without mitral stenosis the blood flow velocity through the mitral valve orifice was recorded by means of a directional Doppler ultrasound velocity catheter introduced transeptally and positioned in the orifice of the mitral valve. A simultaneous surface phonocardiogram was obtained. The timing of the mitral opening snap in relation to the blood velocity record of the flow through the valve supported the hypothesis that the opening snap is due to a sudden tensing of the valve leaflets by the chordae tendineae. Determination of the exact time of mitral valve opening, made possible by the blood velocity record, led to the division of the classical A2-0S interval (aortic valve closure to opening snap) into two components representing respectively the diastolic isovolumic relaxation period and the time of excursion of the mitral valve cusps. The durations of the isovolumic relaxation period were compared with those in the control patients and were found to correlate with the severity of the mitral stenosis, whereas those of the excursion time of the mitral cusps were influenced by the presence or absence of mitral valve calcification.
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