Investigations of valvular regurgitation attempt to specify flow field characteristics and apply them to the proximal isovelocity surface area (PISA) method for quantifying regurgitant flow. Most investigators assume a hemispherical shape to these equivelocity shells proximal to an axisymmetric (circular) orifice. However, in vivo flow fields are viscous and regurgitant openings vary in shape and size. By using centerline profiles and isovelocity surfaces, this investigation describes the flow field proximal to circular and elliptical orifices. Steady, proximal flow fields are obtained with two- and three-dimensional computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations. These simulations are verified by in vitro, laser-Doppler velocimetry (LDV) experiments. The data show that a unique, normalized proximal flow field results for each orifice shape independent of orifice flow or size. The distinct differences in flow fleld characteristics with oriflce shape may provide a mechanism for evaluating orifice characteristics and regurgitant flows. Instead of the hemispherical approximation technique, this study attempts to show the potential to define a universal flow evaluation method based on the details of the flowfield according to oriflce shape. Preliminary results indicate that Magnetic Resonance (MR) and Color Doppler (CD) may reproduce these flow details and allow such a procedure in vivo. © 1997 by ASME.