Accuracy of Doppler echocardiography in quantification of left to right shunts in adult patients with atrial septal defect

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1988 Feb;11(2):338-42. doi: 10.1016/0735-1097(88)90099-x.


In previous experimental and pediatric studies, the ratio of pulmonary to systemic flow (Qp/Qs) was accurately estimated by Doppler echocardiography in various cardiac shunt lesions. The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy of pulsed Doppler echocardiography in determining the magnitude of shunt flow in adult patients with an ostium secundum type atrial septal defect. In 32 patients with high quality echocardiograms and excellent Doppler signals, blood flow was measured in the right and left ventricular outflow tract by Doppler echocardiography. In 16 patients without heart disease, the correlation (r) between systemic (Qs) and pulmonary (Qp) blood flow was 0.96 (SEE = 0.417 liter/min, y = 1.05x - 0.21) and the mean Qp/Qs ratio was 1.01 +/- 0.09. In 16 patients with an atrial septal defect, the Qp/Qs ration measured by oximetry ranged from 1.34 to 4.61 and by pulsed Doppler echocardiography from 1.31 to 4.46 (p = NS). In these 16 patients, the correlation between the Qp/Qs ratio determined by oximetry and pulsed Doppler echocardiography was significant (r = 0.82, SEE = 0.54). In the total group of 32 patients, the correlation was stronger (r = 0.93, SEE = 0.37). Systematic differences between the invasive and noninvasive shunt calculations did not occur. Thus, in adult patients with an atrial septal defect of the secundum type and high quality echocardiograms, the magnitude of left to right shunt can be accurately assessed by pulsed Doppler echocardiography. In the absence of pulmonary hypertension, pulsed Doppler echocardiography provides precise information for the decision to undertake conservative or operative treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / surgery*
  • Heart Septum / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oximetry
  • Pulmonary Circulation