During the last years, noninvasive determination of the aortic valve area by Doppler echocardiography using the continuity equation became popular. However, a systematic valve area underestimation of about 15 % compared to invasive measurements using the Gorlin formula has been reported. The cause therefore is unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the valve area underestimation by the Doppler method might be due to differences in the hydrodynamic background of both methods. This comparison is facilitated by the fact that the Gorlin formula is based on the continuity equation. Compared to the continuity equation, there are four changes within the Gorlin formula: (1) the additional use of a discharge coefficient, which leads to valve area overestimation by the factor 1.17; (2) neglect of the prestenotic velocity, causing further overestimation by the factor 1.036 (in mild stenosis this factor may be 1.18 and more); (3) the wrong calculation of the mean pressure drop, which leads to a mean change by the factor 0.95, and (4) the incorrect substitution of the height by the pressure drop in the derivation of the Gorlin formula causes underestimation by the factor 0.97. Combining these four factors results in valve area overestimation of the Gorlin formula compared to the continuity equation by the factor 1.12. This explains to a large extent the valve area underestimation by the continuity equation.

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