The evaluation of aortic regurgitation by current echocardiographic techniques has been qualitative and load-dependent. The area of the regurgitant orifice, which is theoretically independent of haemodynamic conditions, has not been determined non-invasively. In 20 patients with various degrees of aortic regurgitation, this area was determined by use of the continuity equation applied during diastole. The velocity-time integrals were determined at the supravalvar (VTIs) and regurgitant orifice (VTIj) levels by pulsed and continuous wave Doppler respectively. The cross sectional area at the supravalvar level (As) was also measured by cross sectional echocardiography. The regurgitant orifice is given by: (As × VTIs)/VTIj. Other non-invasive measurements of the aortic regurgitation severity were also recorded: (a) an overall echo score (1–5+) given blindly by two echocardiographers, (b) the maximal proximal jet width by colour Doppler, (c) left ventricular end systolic and end diastolic volumes and left ventricular mass. The regurgitant area ranged from 0·25 to 1·7 cm2 and this area accorded with the overall echo score and the maximal proximal jet width measured by colour Doppler.
The aortic regurgitation orifice area can be calculated non-invasively and it may be a quantitative measure of the severity of aortic regurgitation.