Objectives: The purpose of the study was to develop and validate an automated method for calculating regurgitant flow rate using color Doppler echocardiography.
Background: The proximal flow convergence method is a promising approach to quantitate valvular regurgitation noninvasively because it allows one to calculate regurgitant flow rate and regurgitant orifice area; however, defining the location of the regurgitant orifice is often difficult and can lead to significant error in the calculated flow rates. To overcome this problem we developed an automated algorithm to locate the orifice and calculate flow rate based on the digital Doppler velocity map.
Methods: This algorithm compares the observed velocities with the anticipated relative velocities, cos psi/2 pi r2. The orifice is localized as the point with maximal correlation between predicted and observed velocity, whereas flow rate is specified as the slope of the regression line. We validated this algorithm in an in vitro model for flow through circular orifices with planar surroundings and a porcine bioprosthesis.
Results: For flow through circular orifices, flow rates calculated on individual Doppler maps and on an average of eight velocity maps showed excellent agreement with true flow, with r = 0.977 and delta Q = -3.7 +/- 15.8 cm3/s and r = 0.991 and delta Q = -4.3 +/- 8.5 cm3/s, respectively. Calculated flow rates through the bioprosthesis correlated well but underestimated true flow, with r = 0.97, delta Q = -10.9 +/- 12.5 cm3/s, suggesting flow convergence over an angle > 2 pi. This systematic underestimation was corrected by assuming an effective convergence angle of 212 degrees.
Conclusions: This algorithm accurately locates the regurgitant orifice and calculates regurgitant flow rate for circular orifices with planar surroundings. Automated analysis of the proximal flow field is also applicable to more physiologic surfaces surrounding the regurgitant orifice; however, the convergence angle should be adjusted. This automated algorithm should make quantification of regurgitant flow rate and regurgitant orifice area more reproducible and readily available in clinical cardiology practice.