Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your doctor will ask about your and your family's medical history and give you a physical exam that includes listening to your heart with a stethoscope. Aortic valve regurgitation usually produces a heart murmur, the sound of blood leaking backward through the aortic valve.

Your doctor will then decide what tests are needed to make a diagnosis. For testing, you may be referred to a cardiologist.

Diagnostic tests

Other heart problems can cause signs and symptoms similar to those of aortic valve regurgitation, and it's possible to have more than one disorder at once. Common tests doctors use to diagnose aortic valve regurgitation include:

  • Echocardiogram. Sound waves directed at your heart from a wand-like device (transducer) held on your chest produces video images of your heart in motion. An echocardiogram can identify aortic valve regurgitation and determine its severity.
  • Exercise tests. Different types of exercise tests help measure your tolerance for activity and check your heart's response to exertion.
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Using a magnetic field and radio waves, this test produces detailed pictures of your heart, including the aortic root.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). Wires (electrodes) attached to adhesive pads on your skin measure electrical impulses from your heart, providing information about your heart rhythm. You might walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike during an ECG to see how your heart responds to exertion.
  • Chest X-ray. This enables your doctor to determine whether your heart is enlarged — a possible indicator of aortic valve regurgitation — and the condition of your lungs.
  • Cardiac catheterization. When noninvasive tests are inconclusive, this invasive technique provides a more detailed picture of your heart. It involves threading a thin tube (catheter) through a blood vessel in your arm or groin to an artery in your heart and injecting dye through the catheter to make the artery visible on an X-ray.

These tests help your doctors diagnose aortic valve regurgitation, determine how serious the problem is, and decide whether your aortic valve needs repair or replacement.

Dec. 02, 2016