Twenty patients with ventricular septal rupture after myocardial infarction were investigated by cross sectional echocardiography with integrated pulsed and continuous wave Doppler and colour flow mapping. Confirmatory cardiac catheterisation was performed in 12 patients. Eighteen patients had surgical repair with inspection of the defect. Six patients in whom recurrent ventricular septal rupture developed were also investigated by Doppler echocardiography and colour flow mapping. Cross sectional echocardiography correctly predicted the infarct territory in all cases but visualised the septal rupture in only seven (35%). Pulsed and continuous wave Doppler detected a disturbance of right ventricular systolic flow that was diagnostic of a ventricular septal rupture in 19 (95%), but this only accurately predicted the site in 14 (70%). Colour flow mapping studies showed a mosaic jet traversing the interventricular septum in all 20 cases, and this accurately predicted the site of rupture. In addition colour flow mapping defined three sites of ventricular septal rupture: apical, posterior, and anterior trabecular. Five of the six patients with recurrent rupture were correctly diagnosed by pulsed and continuous wave Doppler and all six were diagnosed by colour flow mapping. Cross sectional echocardiography with colour flow mapping is a highly sensitive and rapid technique for the assessment of postinfarction ventricular septal rupture before and after operation. It was more informative about the site of the rupture than pulsed and continuous wave Doppler echocardiography.
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