The value of echocardiography as compared with cardiac catheterisation was evaluated prospectively in 33 consecutive patients clinically suspected of predominant mitral stenosis. Patients with clinical signs of accompanying mitral regurgitation, no matter how severe, and patients with clinical findings indicating insignificant aortic valve disease were included. Critical mitral stenosis was defined by a valve area of less than or equal to 1 cm2. Severe mitral regurgitation was diagnosed by echocardiography on the basis of left ventricular dilatation (more than 3.2 cm/m2 at end-diastole) if not explained otherwise. Significant aortic valve disease was suspected in cases with aortic valve deformity and left ventricular dilatation or hypertrophy as defined by echocardiography. Mitral valve area by echocardiography correlated well with mitral valve area calculated from catheterisation data and a good interobserver correlation was found for echocardiographic measurement. Mitral stenosis, critical or non-critical, may mask significant coexistent valve lesions; echocardiography failed to discover severe mitral regurgitation requiring valve replacement in two patients with non-critical stenosis, and significant aortic regurgitation needing valve replacement was underestimated in one patient with critical mitral stenosis. A correct echocardiographic classification with respect to surgery, however, was obtained in: (1) all patients with clinically pure mitral stenosis (nine patients), and (2) all patients with combined mitral stenosis and regurgitation when either critical stenosis or severe regurgitation was found at echocardiography (12 patients). It thus appears that two out of three patients with mitral valve disease in whom the clinical findings indicate predominant stenosis can be correctly evaluated with the echocardiogram.
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