Twenty two patients (four men, 18 women, mean age 56 years, range 21 to 88 years) with a history of rheumatic mitral stenosis were studied by cross sectional echocardiography before and after balloon dilatation of the mitral valve. The appearance of the mitral valve on the pre-dilatation echocardiogram was scored for leaflet mobility, leaflet thickening, subvalvar thickening, and calcification. Mitral valve area, left atrial volume, transmitral pressure difference, pulmonary artery pressure, cardiac output, cardiac rhythm, New York Heart Association functional class, age, and sex were also studied. Because there was some increase in valve area in almost all patients the results were classified as optimal or suboptimal (final valve area less than 1.0 cm2, final left atrial pressure greater than 10 mm Hg, or final valve area less than 25% greater than the initial area). The best multiple logistic regression fit was found with the total echocardiographic score alone. A high score (advanced leaflet deformity) was associated with a suboptimal outcome while a low score (a mobile valve with limited thickening) was associated with an optimal outcome. No other haemodynamic or clinical variables emerged as predictors of outcome in this analysis. Examination of pre-dilatation and post-dilatation echocardiograms showed that balloon dilatation reliably resulted in cleavage of the commissural plane and thus an increase in valve area.
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