Your doctor will ask about your medical history and your family history of heart disease. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam that includes listening to your heart with a stethoscope. Mitral valve regurgitation usually produces a heart murmur, the sound of blood leaking backward through the mitral valve.

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

Diagnostic tests

Common tests to diagnose mitral valve regurgitation include:

  • Echocardiogram. This is the test most commonly used to diagnose mitral valve regurgitation. In this test, sound waves directed at your heart from a wandlike device (transducer) held on your chest produce video images of your heart in motion. This test assesses the structure of your heart, the mitral valve and the blood flow through your heart. An echocardiogram helps your doctor get a close look at the mitral valve and how well it's working. Doctors also may use a 3-D echocardiogram.

    Doctors may conduct another type of echocardiogram called a transesophageal echocardiogram. In this test, a small transducer attached to the end of a tube is inserted down your esophagus, which allows a closer look at the mitral valve than a regular echocardiogram does. Doctors may also use a 3-D echocardiogram.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). Wires (electrodes) attached to adhesive pads on your skin measure electrical impulses from your heart. An ECG can detect enlarged chambers of your heart, heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Chest X-ray. This enables your doctor to determine whether the left atrium or the left ventricle is enlarged — possible indicators of mitral valve regurgitation — and the condition of your lungs.
  • Cardiac MRI. A cardiac MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your heart. This test may be used to determine the severity of your condition and assess the size and function of your lower left heart chamber (left ventricle).
  • Exercise tests or stress tests. Different exercise tests help measure your activity tolerance and monitor your heart's response to physical exertion. If you are unable to exercise, medications to mimic the effect of exercise on your heart may be used.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test isn't often used to diagnose mitral valve regurgitation. This invasive technique 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. This provides a detailed picture of your heart arteries and how your heart functions. It can also measure the pressure inside the heart chambers.
  • CT angiogram. A CT angiogram may be performed of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to determine whether you're a candidate for robotic mitral valve repair.