Acute Mitral Regurgitation Workup

Updated: Dec 28, 2015
  • Author: Daniel DiSandro, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Imaging Studies

Chest radiography

The cardiac silhouette often is normal in patients with mitral valve prolapse (MVP).

With chronic mitral regurgitation, left ventricular and left atrial enlargement are present.

The left atrium can be large enough that it produces elevation of the left mainstem bronchus.

Occasionally, the double density sign can be seen along the right heart border, which is produced by the shadow of the wall of the dilated left atrium.

The heart size of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) can range from normal to significant dilatation of the left ventricle and left atrium.

Mitral regurgitation presents with acute pulmonary edema and a normal cardiac silhouette with acute mitral regurgitation that is secondary to a rupture of a valve apparatus.

Two-dimensional echocardiography

Evidence of posterior motion of valve leaflets during mid-systole is present in patients with mitral valve prolapse.

Annular calcifications may be seen in patients with coronary artery disease. In addition, evidence of posterior or inferior wall motion abnormalities may be observed.

With acute mitral regurgitation, the ruptured chordae tendineae or papillary muscle, as well as perforated interventricular septum, can be visualized. The left atrium and ventricle are generally of normal size.

Transesophageal echocardiography provides a better estimate of the severity of damage.

See the videos below.

Transesophageal echocardiogram demonstrating prolapse of both mitral valve leaflets during systole.
Transthoracic echocardiogram demonstrating bioprosthetic mitral valve dehiscence with paravalvular regurgitation.

Other Tests


Chronic mitral regurgitation: Atrial fibrillation often is present secondary to a dilated left atrium. The ECG shows evidence of left ventricular hypertrophy and left atrial enlargement.


Evidence of inferior and posterior Q waves may be present, indicating prior infarction.


Patients most commonly have ST- and T-wave changes, with T-wave inversions in the inferior leads. ECG may reveal an underlying arrhythmia (eg, sinus arrhythmia, sinus arrest, atrial fibrillation, premature ventricular contractions [PVCs]).

Acute mitral regurgitation

ECG may reveal evidence of an acute myocardial infarction, more commonly inferior or posterior.



Cardiac catheterization

Angiography is considered to be the criterion standard in the assessment of the severity of the disease.

Mitral regurgitation is graded on a scale from 0 (none), 1 (mild), 2 (moderate), 3 (moderately severe), to 4 (severe).

The severity is based on the opacity of the left atrium.

The regurgitant volume can be calculated based on information from the catheterization.

In addition, this test will identify those with underlying CAD.