OBJECTIVES This study was designed to examine the accuracy of proximal accelerating flow calculations in estimating regurgitant flow rate or volume in patients with different types of mitral valve disease. BACKGROUND Flow acceleration proximal to a regurgitant orifice, observed with Doppler color flow mapping, is constituted by isovelocity surfaces centered at the orifice. By conservation of mass, the flow rate through each isovelocity surface equals the flow rate through the regurgitant orifice. METHODS Forty-six adults with mitral regurgitation of angiographic grades I to IV were studied. The proximal accelerating flow rate (Q) was calculated by: Q = 2 pi r2.Vn, where pi r2 is the area of the hemisphere and Vn is the Nyquist velocity. Radius of the hemisphere (r) was measured from two-dimensional or M-mode Doppler color recording. From the M-mode color study, integration of accelerating flow rate throughout systole yielded stroke accelerating flow volume and mean flow rate. Mitral regurgitant flow rate and stroke regurgitant volume were measured by using a combination of pulsed wave Doppler and two-dimensional echocardiographic measurements of aortic forward flow and mitral inflow. RESULTS The proximal accelerating flow region was observed in 42 of 46 patients. Maximal accelerating flow measured from either two-dimensional (372 +/- 389 ml/s) or M-mode (406 +/- 421 ml/s) Doppler color study tended to overestimate the mean regurgitant flow rate (306 +/- 253 ml/s, p < 0.05). Mean Doppler accelerating flow rate correlated well with mean regurgitant flow rate (r = 0.95, p < 0.001), although there was a tendency toward slight overestimation of mean regurgitant flow by mean accelerating flow in severe mitral regurgitation. However, there was no significant difference between the mean accelerating flow rate (318 +/- 304 ml/s) and the mean regurgitant flow rate (306 +/- 253 ml/s, p = NS) for all patients. A similar relation was found between accelerating flow stroke volume (78.27 +/- 62.72 ml) and regurgitant flow stroke volume (76.06 +/- 59.76 ml) (r = 0.95, p < 0.001). The etiology of mitral regurgitation did not appear to affect the relation between accelerating flow and regurgitant flow. CONCLUSIONS Proximal accelerating flow rate calculated by the hemispheric model of the isovelocity surface was applicable and accurate in most patients with mitral regurgitation of a variety of causes. There was slight overestimation of regurgitant flow rate by accelerating flow rate when the regurgitant lesion was more severe.