Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

What is a Dobutamine Stress Echo?

An Dobutamine stress echocardiogram (“echo”) is a test that combines an ultrasound study of the heart with a pharmacologic agent to stress the heart. This test helps the doctor determine how well you heart handles stress. As your heart works harder it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood. The test can show if the blood supply is reduced in the arteries that supply the heart.

What will happen during the test?

You will be asked to remove clothing above the waist, and put on a paper gown or other covering to keep you comfortable. You will be asked to lie on an examination table. A technician moves the transducer over the chest, to obtain different views of the heart. To improve the quality of the pictures, gel is applied to the area of the chest where the transducer will be placed. You may be asked to breathe slowly or hold your breath. Pictures of your heart are then recorded.

An ECG is done prior to the infusion. Your heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure are monitored continuously during the test. Dobutamine is infused into the vein. The infusion dose is increased every few minutes. Additional sets of echo images are obtained during the infusion of dobutamine and afterwards. The test usually ends when sufficient information has been obtained. It may also be stopped when your heart beats fast enough, when the ECG shows abnormal changes, or when you experience any significant symptoms. The physician then compares the images (before, during and after dobutamine) side by side to see how your heart responds to the stress induced by the drug.

When will I get the results?

The physician or his staff conducting the test may be able to give some preliminary results before you leave. A complete interpretation may take several days. The information gained from this test helps your physician make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that’s best for you.