Superior vena caval blood flow velocities in adults: a Doppler echocardiographic study

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1986 Jul;61(1):215-9. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1986.61.1.215.


Superior vena caval blood flow velocity was measured in 30 normal adults (age 20-65, mean 36 yr). The flow velocities were measured by pulsed Doppler echocardiography, using a Duplex system with the transducer at the right supraclavicular fossa, approximating a 0 degrees Doppler angle. Four distinct flow waveforms were found during each cardiac cycle: A, a small retrograde flow during right atrial contraction (peak flow velocity 12.4 +/- 2.2 cm/s); B, a small antegrade flow during right atrial relaxation (15.7 +/- 5.0 cm/s); S, a large antegrade flow during ventricular systole (35.2 +/- 7.3 cm/s); and D, a large antegrade flow during ventricular diastole (23.2 +/- 3.1 cm/s). The wave duration was inversely related to heart rate. The peak flow velocities of the S and D waves were inversely related to the patients' ages. This study provides recognition of the pattern and range of normality essential to extension of this noninvasive technique to the diagnosis of pathological conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • Vena Cava, Superior / physiology*