Testing & diagnosis for mitral valve stenosis in children

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Contact the Congenital Heart Valve Program

How is mitral valve stenosis diagnosed?

The process of arriving at a diagnosis of mitral valve stenosis usually involves several steps.

Often, a clinician will first notice that your child has a heart murmur—which is simply a telltale noise blood makes as it flows from the left ventricle to the aorta. Heart murmurs can be detected with a stethoscope during a routine physical examination or with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG),a test that records the heart’s electrical activity and shows any abnormal rhythms or unusual stress. Sometimes, the murmur may emerge when the child is being tested or treated for another condition altogether.

The loudness of the murmur, where in the chest it is best heard and the types of noise it causes (such as gurgling or blowing) will all give your child’s clinician a better idea of the nature of your child’s heart problem.

(Did you know heart defects can even be detected when a baby is still in the womb? Learn more about how Children’s monitors fetal heartbeats.)

Although exams and electrocardiograms can suggest the possibility of mitral valve stenosis, an echocardiogram is the definitive test used to confirm the diagnosis. An echocardiogram is a special procedure that uses ultrasonic sound waves to create images of the heart and its structures. Echocardiograms are painless, do not require an IV and only take about an hour to perform.

Other tests your child’s clinician might order to make, or rule out, a diagnosis of mitral valve stenosis can include:

In order to accurately measure the degree of moderate or severe mitral stenosis, it may be necessary to do a more invasive test, such as a cardiac catheterization, which uses a small, flexible tube threaded up to the heart to give very detailed information about the structures within the heart. 

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