What is a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram?

A stress echocardiogram investigates cardiac function under stress and coronary artery disease non-invasively.

Dobutamine is an intravenous mediation administered by continuous infusion to mimic the effect of exercise, in those patients unable to perform an exercise stress test.

A resting echo is performed, with further imaging taken during different stages of the infusion, at progressively increasing dose rates

Preparation

There is no specific preparation required. Ladies, please try and wear a top and bottom rather than a dress. A bare chest is required for the test, but a gown will be available for modesty.

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The procedure

Firstly, you will be connected to the stress test monitoring equipment and your ECG and BP will be taken, then a resting echocardiogram will be performed.

Once this is complete, the cardiologist will insert an intravenous cannula and connect the infusion equipment.

Throughout the test a doctor will be present, and your ECG and blood pressure will be monitored. The infusion rate will be gradually increased, and echo images will be recorded at various stages, until the infusion protocol is completed, or the test is terminated for other reasons.

It is important to tell the doctor if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, including chest pain.

Some pressure will need to be applied to the transducer between your ribs to obtain adequate images. It is not unusual to feel some tenderness in the following days.

Risks

Clinical stress testing is usually performed in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease.  While every effort is made to minimise the risks of the procedure, there is a small but definite risk of complications of which you should be aware.  Emergency equipment and trained personnel are available to deal with any complications that may arise.

Serious potential complications include the possibility of a major disturbance of heart rhythm requiring resuscitation, the development of heart failure or prolonged angina (heart pain), or the development of a heart attack.  The risk of one of

these occurring is approximately 2 or 3 in 10,000 tests.  Unfortunately, there is also a very small risk of death occurring as a result of a stress test.  The chance of this in the average patient is approximately 1 in 10,000 although the risks of complications including death are higher in patients with known severe coronary disease. 

Please feel free to discuss these issues prior to agreeing to undergo the stress test.

Informed consent

It is required by law to receive your consent to perform this test. It is important that you have read and understood this information. If you have any questions, please ask the technician prior to your test.

Appointments

To ensure your appointment runs smoothly, please arrive at the practice 10 minutes early to fill out any required paperwork.

Results

Results will be sent to your referring doctor. If ordered by our cardiologists, they will discuss at your next appointment.

Appointments

To ensure your appointment runs smoothly, please arrive at the practice 10 minutes early to fill out any required paperwork.

Results

Results will be sent to your referring doctor. If ordered by our cardiologists, they will discuss at your next appointment.