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Pulmonary Hypertension

Accuracy of echocardiograms in diagnosing PH

02/06/2008

Question:

I received the results of my echocardiogram and I`m concerned. I`m wondering what the margin of error is in determining sPAP?

"Mild tricuspid regurgitation. Estimated PA systolic pressure is 40 mmHg." I also have mild mitral regurgitation, but everything else appears to be normal.

Thank you in advance!

Answer:

Thank you for your question. This has been studied several times with conflicting and inconclusive results. Some studies have shown echocardiogram measurements to be accurate with as little as 3mmHg variation compared to measurements at heart catheterization. Others have found wide discrepancies for many patients. For example, one study found that echocardiogram typically underestimated the pressure by 20 mmHg. However, another study found that 32 percent of women with abnormal echocardiograms suggesting pulmonary hypertension were found to have normal hemodynamics at heart catheterization.

My impression is that your echocardiogram is abnormal and this functions as a starting point requiring further investigation. However, further testing may find that your pulmonary pressure and heart function are actually normal.

For more information:

Go to the Pulmonary Hypertension health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Douglas W Haden, MD Douglas W Haden, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University