Mid-systolic drop in left ventricular ejection velocity in obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy--the lobster claw abnormality

J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 1997 Sep;10(7):707-12. doi: 10.1016/s0894-7317(97)70112-3.


In many patients with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an abrupt mid-systolic drop in left ventricular ejection velocity can be detected. We analyzed 27 patients with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy who had 43 echocardiographic examinations (mean gradient 53 +/- 6 mm Hg). Exams showing a mid-systolic drop had higher mean outflow tract pressure gradients (90 +/- 6 compared with 29 +/- 4 mm Hg, p < 0.001). After medical elimination of obstruction, the mid-systolic drop was no longer seen. We measured 105 pulsed-wave Doppler tracings in the left ventricular cavity and compared them with 90 continuous-wave tracings through the outflow tract. There was a close temporal correlation between the nadir of the left ventricular velocity drop and the peak continuous-wave left ventricular outflow tract velocity (r = 0.99). There was also a close temporal correlation between the onset of the fall in pulsed velocity and the onset of M-mode mitral-septal contact (r = 0.95).

Conclusions: The mid-systolic drop in left ventricular velocity is due to impedance to ejection and provides evidence of true obstruction. As left ventricular ejection velocity falls to its mid-systolic nadir because of impedance of ejection, velocity downstream in the left ventricular outflow tract actually rises to its peak. This disparity in the two velocities, deceleration in the left ventricular cavity and acceleration in the left ventricular outflow tract, indicates that the outflow orifice is progressively narrowed over time as the mitral valve is forced into the septum by the rising pressure difference. The obstruction phase is best described as a time-dependent, amplifying feedback loop. The orifice narrows over time because of the rising pressure difference; the pressure difference rises over time because of the narrowing orifice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Aged
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / diagnostic imaging
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / drug therapy
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / physiopathology*
  • Deceleration
  • Disopyramide / therapeutic use
  • Echocardiography*
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Echocardiography, Doppler, Pulsed
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Septum / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Septum / physiopathology
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mitral Valve / diagnostic imaging
  • Mitral Valve / physiopathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stroke Volume / physiology*
  • Systole / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*
  • Ventricular Outflow Obstruction / diagnostic imaging
  • Ventricular Outflow Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Pressure / physiology
  • Verapamil / therapeutic use


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Verapamil
  • Disopyramide