Dobutamine Stress Echo

Why is the doctor performing this test?

To determine how well the heart is pumping blood through the coronary arteries.

What is the test?

A dobutamine stress echo is a non-invasive ultrasound test which is used to visualize the heart in motion. To view the heart, your doctor will place a transducer on your chest which emits harmless sound waves to your heart. These sound waves generate pictures of your heart in motion and are displayed on an ultrasound machine connected to the transducer.

Your doctor will examine the muscle movement of the heart (also called wall motion) while you are at rest. Then, your doctor will inject a medication called dobutamine through an IV. This causes your heart to beat faster, simulating the effects exercise has on your heart. The doctor will then examine these pictures of your heart and compare them to the pictures taken while you were at rest.

If the results of your stress echo show decreased muscle movement (or wall motion) during stress than while resting, it is an indicator that there could be plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) in your arteries. The doctor will determine if any other testing is necessary to ensure that your heart is functioning properly.

Where is the test performed?

In various outpatient centers, such as your cardiologist’s office.

How long does this test take?

Approximately 30 – 45 minutes:

  • Prep: 10 – 15 minutes
  • Testing: 15 minutes

Recovery: 10 – 15 minutes