Doppler flow velocity patterns of the superior vena cava, inferior vena cava, hepatic vein, coronary sinus, and atrial septal defect: a guide for the echocardiographer

J Am Soc Echocardiogr. Sep-Oct 1991;4(5):503-12. doi: 10.1016/s0894-7317(14)80386-6.


Pulsed-wave Doppler provides the echocardiographer the advantage of range resolution; confusion as to the source of Doppler shift information is unusual. One area of the heart that may lead to interpretive difficulties, however, is the right atrium because the right atrium receives blood flow from three venous sources and from the left atrium when an atrial septal defect is present. Our article presents information on the normal pulsed-wave Doppler spectral displays for the superior vena cava, inferior vena cava, hepatic vein, and coronary sinus. Because it is clinically pertinent, methods on how to differentiate these normal venous flow patterns from atrial septal defect flow will be emphasized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology*
  • Echocardiography, Doppler*
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hepatic Veins / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vena Cava, Superior / diagnostic imaging*