Guidelines for quantifying mitral regurgitation (MR) using “proximal isovelocity surface area” (PISA) instruct operators to measure the PISA radius from valve orifice to Doppler flow convergence “hemisphere”. Using clinical data and a physically-constructed MR model we (A) analyse the actually-observed colour Doppler PISA shape and (B) test whether instructions to measure a “hemisphere” are helpful.
In part A, the true shape of PISA shells was investigated using three separate approaches. First, a systematic review of published examples consistently showed non-hemispherical, “urchinoid” shapes. Second, our clinical data confirmed that the Doppler-visualized surface is non-hemispherical. Third, in-vitro experiments showed that round orifices never produce a colour Doppler hemisphere.
In part B, six observers were instructed to measure hemisphere radius r h and (on a second viewing) urchinoid distance ( d u ) in 11 clinical PISA datasets; 6 established experts also measured PISA distance as the gold standard. r h measurements, generated using the hemisphere instruction significantly underestimated expert values (− 28%, p < 0.0005), meaning r h 2 was underestimated by approximately 2-fold. d u measurements, generated using the non-hemisphere instruction were less biased (+ 7%, p = 0.03).
Finally, frame-to-frame variability in PISA distance was found to have a coefficient of variation (CV) of 25% in patients and 9% in in-vitro data. Beat-to-beat variability had a CV of 15% in patients.
Doppler-visualized PISA shells are not hemispherical: we should avoid advising observers to measure a hemispherical radius because it encourages underestimation of orifice area by approximately two-fold. If precision is needed (e.g. to detect changes reliably) multi-frame averaging is essential.