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Diagnosis

Sounds Heard Using a Stethoscope

Your doctor can detect mitral valve regurgitation during a physical examination by listening to your heart with a stethoscope.

Murmur

Mitral valve regurgitation usually produces a heart murmur. This is the sound of blood leaking backward into the left atrium through the faulty mitral valve.

Diagnostic Tests

The diagnosis must be confirmed with one or more of a number of tests.

Echocardiogram

This painless test -- the most useful test for diagnosing these conditions -- uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. It provides information about the size and shape of your heart and how well your heart chambers and valves are functioning. The test can also identify areas of poor blood flow to the heart, areas of heart muscle that are not contracting normally, and prior injury to the heart muscle as a result of poor blood flow.

Echocardiography

Echocardiography also can be performed by placing a probe down your esophagus (the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach) to get a better look at the mitral valve. This is called a transesophageal echocardiogram or TEE.

Doppler Ultrasound

This painless test also uses sound waves to show the speed and direction of blood flow through the mitral valve. It can be given as part of the echocardiogram test.

Chest X-ray

This is used to look for fluid in your lungs or to see if your heart is enlarged. Unlike the above two tests, exposure to radiation is involved.

ECG/EKG Waves

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

This test charts the electrical activity of your heart and can show abnormal heartbeats, heart muscle damage and enlargement of the heart.

In this test, sticky patches with electrodes are attached to your skin to track the electrical pulses given off by your heart. An ECG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The test gives information about heart rhythm and size.

Holter Monitor

This portable device to record a continuous ECG can be worn for 24 to 72 hours. It is used to detect intermittent heart rhythm irregularities that may be associated with valve abnormalities.

Insertion of Catheter with Guide WireCoronary Catheterization

This involves the threading of a tiny tube or catheter through a blood vessel in the arm or groin all the way into the heart. The tube can be used to measure pressures within the heart and provide information about heart and valve function or deliver "dye" (radiographic contrast) into the heart chambers and arteries.

When the dye is seen on x-ray images, it provides information about the heart and valve function and whether there are blockages in the heart arteries.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-8800

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