An accurate but simple and noninvasive method for quantifying flow across a ventricular septal defect has yet to be implemented for routine clinical use. A region of flow convergence is commonly imaged by Doppler color flow mapping on the left septal surface of the ventricular septal defect, appearing as a narrowed region of laminar flow with aliased flow velocities entering the orifice. If the first aliasing region represents a hemispheric isovelocity boundary of a surface of flow convergence and all flow at this surface crosses the ventricular septal defect, the flow through the defect can be estimated by using the radius (R), measured from the first alias to the orifice, and the Nyquist limit (NL) velocity (the now velocity at the first alias). Doppler color flow imaging was performed in 18 children with a single membranous ventricular septal defect undergoing cardiac catheterization at a mean age of 29.8 months (Group I). Indexes of maximal flow rate across the defect were developed from either the radius or the area, obtained by planimetry, of the first alias, based on Doppler color flow images. All indexes were corrected for body surface area and compared with shunt flow (Qp - Qs) and pulmonary to systemic flow ratio ( Qp Qs) determined at cardiac catheterization. Doppler color flow indexes derived from images of flow convergence in both the long-axis (n = 15) and oblique four-chamber (n = 10) views correlated closely with Qp Qs (r = 0.71 to 0.92) and Qp - Qs (r = 0.69 to 0.97). In another eight patients (Group II), the same indexes correlated well with results of Qp - Qs determined by planimetry of pulsed Doppler curves and by areas measured with use of two-dimensional echocardiography (r = 0.94). These results suggest that simple and clinically useful quantitative indexes of shunting across a ventricular septal defect can be derived from the flow convergence region proximal to the defect.
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