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Clin Cardiol. 2000 Aug;23(8):560-70.

Recent advances in dobutamine stress echocardiography.

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Medical Research Service, Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.


Dobutamine stress echocardiography (DSE) is a reliable cardiac risk stratifier that has widespread applicability because of its clinical accuracy and cost effectiveness. Dobutamine has positive inotropic and chronotropic effects and is commonly used in patients who cannot exercise or achieve an adequate heart rate response with exercise. Recently available long-term results from several independent clinical trials, combined with enhancements in image quality, have improved the ability to detect significant coronary artery disease and determine myocardial viability. Dobutamine stress echocardiography has an excellent safety profile with clinical results superior to regular exercise electrocardiography and comparable with exercise echocardiography and radionucleotide perfusion stress imaging. Low-dose dobutamine response can accurately predict dysfunctional yet viable myocardial regions that may improve with revascularization. Clinical studies are now available refining the common use of DSE preoperatively in female patients with valvular disease, as well as in the emergency department. Dobutamine stress echocardiography does have some limitations in discriminating particular regions of ischemia when multiple ventricular segments are involved and when the imaging is suboptimal. It can be applied using minimal additional resources in an otherwise functioning echocardiography laboratory and, with appropriate training, can result in clinical results comparable with those of large-scale multicenter trials. Ongoing improvements in technology and the development of new reagents such as myocardial contrast agents hold promise for further advancement in the near future.

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