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The Left Ventricular Intracavitary Vortex during the Isovolumic Contraction Period as Detected by Vector Flow Mapping


  • Haibin Zhang, Jun Zhang, and Xiaoxing Zhu contributed equally to this work.

Jun Zhang and Hongling Li, Department of Ultrasound, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an 710032, China. Fax: +86-29-83244121; E-mail:


Aims: The purpose of this study was to characterize left ventricular (LV) intracavitary flow during the isovolumic contraction (IVC) period in humans using vector flow mapping. Methods: Color flow Doppler imaging was performed from the apical long-axis view in 61 patients with heart failure and 58 healthy volunteers. Doppler flow data obtained during IVC were analyzed offline with vector flow mapping. Results: A large vortex was formed from the LV inflow toward the outflow during IVC. In normal subjects, the area of the vortex was sustained, but the flow volume decreased significantly during IVC (P < 0.001). A significant apex-to-base flow velocity gradient was shown along the outflow axis on aortic valve opening. However, both the area and flow volume of the vortex decreased more severely during IVC in the patients (P < 0.001). The apex-to-base flow velocity gradient along the outflow axis disappeared and a reversed velocity gradient was observed at the basal-mid level on aortic valve opening. In multivariate models, a decreased LV ejection fraction was the only independent predictor of the percentage decrease in area of the vortex during the IVC (P < 0.001), and a larger QRS width (P = 0.028) and LV end-systolic long diameter (P = 0.002) were independent predictors of the percentage decrease in flow volume of the vortex. Conclusions: The vortex across the LV inflow–outflow region during IVC facilitates the ejection of blood during early systole, and an unsustained vortex may be associated with impaired cardiac function. (Echocardiography 2012;29:579-587)