OBJECTIVE: To compare the value of echo score with that of Doppler subvalvar flow broadening in deciding the type of mitral stenosis surgery. PATIENTS: 30 patients, mean age 47 years, with severe stenosis undergoing surgery were divided into two groups according to type of surgery: open heart commissurotomy (group 1, n = 12), or prosthesis (group 2, n = 18). A control group of 10 patients with prosthesis served as reference, representing mild stenosis without subvalvar connection. METHODS: For echo, the score proposed by Wilkins for cross sectional imaging was used. For Doppler, the flow diameters were measured in cm by an independent examiner from the long axis view in early diastole at two levels: (1) at the level of the stenosis (origin flow diameter), and (2) 1.5 cm downstream from the stenosis in the left ventricle (subvalvar flow diameter) with calculation of a Doppler ratio relating these two measurements, expressed as a percentage of broadening. Diagnostic value was compared for both procedures. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in age, mitral valve areas, or haemodynamics for the two groups. Mean values (SD) were: echo score: group 1, 9.83 (1.26) v group 2, 10.8 (8.1), NS; Doppler ratio %: group 1, 44 (24) v group 2, 12 (21) (P < 0.001); control group: 69 (15). The per cent diagnostic value for an open heart commissurotomy of respective cut off points was: Doppler ratio > 25% (range 71% to 87%); echo score < 10 (range 50% to 75%). CONCLUSIONS: The new Doppler ratio diagnostic value agreed better with surgical management, repair or prosthesis, in this study. Thus, it appears to better reflect the subvalvar involvement and changes in kinetics than the echo score alone. This easy Doppler method might become a routine examination for follow up of patients with open heart commissurotomy, to avoid performing repeated transoesophageal echocardiography.