Aims: To evaluate the correlation of the flow patterns of the four pulmonary veins as assessed by transesophageal echocardiography and the influence of significant mitral regurgitation on this correlation. Methods and Results: Eighty-eight patients with normal sinus rhythm and variable underlying cardiovascular diseases underwent transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiographic studies. Doppler flow of the four pulmonary veins could not be adequately interpreted in 19 patients (22%). The left atrial dimension of these patients was significantly larger than that of the patients with complete study of the flow in the four pulmonary veins (49 ± 6 vs. 43 ± 7 mm; p < 0.05). Of the 69 patients with complete evaluation of the four pulmonary veins, 48 patients without significant mitral regurgitation were analyzed as group A, and the remaining 21 patients as group B. The peak systolic and diastolic forward flow velocities of the four pulmonary veins were measured and the ratio of peak systolic (S) to diastolic (D) flow velocity was calculated. Group A had a significantly larger S/D ratio in all four pulmonary veins than group B (p < 0.05 in each pulmonary vein measurement). There was good correlation of the flow pattern represented as S/D ratio between left upper and lower pulmonary veins (r = 0.90) and between right upper and lower pulmonary veins (r = 0.89) in group A. The correlation of the flow pattern among the four pulmonary veins deteriorated in group B. Conclusion: Pulmonary veins on the same side share rather similar flow patterns in comparison with pulmonary veins on the opposite sides. The correlation of flow patterns among the four pulmonary veins is good in subjects without significant mitral regurgitation, but it worsens in patients with significant mitral regurgitation. Therefore, cautious interpretation of flow patterns of the four pulmonary veins in patients with significant regurgitation is indicated for grading the severity of mitral regurgitation.
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