Background: The effective orifice area (EOA) estimated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography (TTE) via the continuity equation is commonly used to determine the severity of aortic stenosis (AS). However, there are often discrepancies between TTE-derived EOA and invasive indices of stenosis, thus raising uncertainty about actual definite severity. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) has emerged as an alternative method for non-invasive estimation of valve EOA. The objective of this study was to assess the concordance between TTE and CMR for the estimation of valve EOA.
Methods and results: 31 patients with mild to severe AS (EOA range: 0.72 to 1.73 cm2) and seven (7) healthy control subjects with normal transvalvular flow rate underwent TTE and velocity-encoded CMR. Valve EOA was calculated by the continuity equation. CMR revealed that the left ventricular outflow tract (LVOT) cross-section is typically oval and not circular. As a consequence, TTE underestimated the LVOT cross-sectional area (ALVOT, 3.84 ± 0.80 cm2) compared to CMR (4.78 ± 1.05 cm2). On the other hand, TTE overestimated the LVOT velocity-time integral (VTILVOT: 21 ± 4 vs. 15 ± 4 cm). Good concordance was observed between TTE and CMR for estimation of aortic jet VTI (61 ± 22 vs. 57 ± 20 cm). Overall, there was a good correlation and concordance between TTE-derived and CMR-derived EOAs (1.53 ± 0.67 vs. 1.59 ± 0.73 cm2, r = 0.92, bias = 0.06 ± 0.29 cm2). The intra- and inter- observer variability of TTE-derived EOA was 5 ± 5% and 9 ± 5%, respectively, compared to 2 ± 1% and 7 ± 5% for CMR-derived EOA.
Conclusion: Underestimation of ALVOT by TTE is compensated by overestimation of VTILVOT, thereby resulting in a good concordance between TTE and CMR for estimation of aortic valve EOA. CMR was associated with less intra- and inter- observer measurement variability compared to TTE. CMR provides a non-invasive and reliable alternative to Doppler-echocardiography for the quantification of AS severity.