After a resting echocardiogram has been performed an intravenous drip (small plastic tube) is inserted into the arm for a dobutamine infusion. Dobutamine is a drug that stimulates the heart, mimicking the effects of exercise. Ultrasound images of the heart are taken during the dobutamine infusion looking for changes that indicate inadequate blood supply to some region of the heart muscle. The infusion of drug is stopped if any are seen. Dobutamine can be reversed quickly with an intravenous injection of a beta-blocker, if needed. Generally dobutamine infusion is well tolerated, but it can cause tingling, shakiness, and palpitations.
The patient is asked to stay in the clinic for approximately 20 minutes after the procedure. The results are interpreted by a cardiologist with expertise in dobutamine stress echocardiography, and a report is sent to the referring doctor who will see the patient to give a full explanation.