The severity of mitral regurgitation (MR) was assessed by transesophageal Doppler flow echocardiography (TEE) using new criteria in 87 patients. The severity of MR assessed by TEE (TEE-MR) was compared with that obtained by left ventriculography (LVG-MR). Although the severity of TEE-MR has been evaluated by MR jet area, it is often difficult because the MR jet extends beyond a single frame image in severe MR. We found that (1) when the MR area was larger than 3 cm2, the severity of MR was more than second-degree by LVG; (2) there was systolic turning flow (STF) of the MR jet within the left atrial cavity in 27 of 30 patients with third- and fourth-degree LVG-MR; and (3) there was late systolic backward flow (SBF) in the pulmonary veins in 9 of 10 patients with fourth-degree LVG-MR. A new grading of the severity of MR by TEE was proposed, which combined the findings of STF, SBF, and the MR area. These new criteria of the severity of TEE-MR excellently correlated with that by LVG (y = 0.94x + 0.08; r = 0.95, p < 0.01). The criteria for MR by TEE were also useful for assessment of MR in patients with prosthetic mitral valve dysfunction (y = 0.96x + 0.04; r = 0.97, p < 0.01). We conclude from this study that the severity of MR can be accurately assessed with TEE by measuring the MR area and the specific flow patterns in the left atrium and pulmonary veins.
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