Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

If you are unable to exercise, dobutamine is used to make your heart beat faster so that we can assess your heart at high heart rates.

Dobutamine stress echocardiogram is a medication stress test that uses an echocardiogram image of the heart muscle whilst you are lying down in the presence of a cardiologist.

An echocardiogram is a painless, non-invasive ultrasound imaging test of the heart made by placing a probe on the outside of the left chest. A dobutamine stress echocardiogram is used when you can’t walk on the treadmill. A dobutamine stress echocardiogram allows your doctor see the movement of the heart muscle as the heart rate increases. This is used to diagnose blockages in your heart arteries that are restricting blood flow to the heart muscle. It also allows your doctor to assess the ability of your heart muscle to contract and valvular function.

Dobutamine stress echocardiograms are an important diagnostic tool for your doctor to use, particularly if you are unable to have an exercise stress echocardiogram due to back or joint problems.


No prior preparation is required.

How is it done?

ECG electrode dots will be connected to your chest. An automated blood pressure cuff will be fitted to your upper arm. You will be asked to lie down on your left side on the examination couch in the clinic with your shirt off. An ultrasound probe with cool gel on top of it is placed on your chest. These are the resting images.

The dobutamine medication is then commenced in the presence of a cardiologist and slowly increased until your heart rate reaches a certain level. Echocardiogram images will be taken as your heart rate increased in stages. You may be asked to hold your breath for short periods during this time as the images are taken.

Once the heart rate has reached a certain level, the medication is switched off and your heart rate returns to normal over the next few minutes. You may feel the heart racing or tingling during the test and the medication may replicate your symptoms.

Your cardiologist will arrange a review to discuss the dobutamine stress echocardiographic results.


30 minutes.