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Dobutamine echocardiography for assessment of viability in the current era

Khemka, Abhishek; Sawada, Stephen G.

doi: 10.1097/HCO.0000000000000658

Purpose of review Studies from the 1990s and early 2000s documented the utility of dobutamine echocardiography for the prediction of functional recovery and prognosis with revascularization. The results of The Surgical Treatment of Ischemic Heart Failure (STICH) trial called into question the value of viability assessment using dobutamine echocardiography. The purpose of this review is to re-examine the literature on dobutamine echocardiography, put into context the STICH results, and provide insight into the current role of dobutamine echocardiography viability testing.

Recent findings In contrast to the results of previous nonrandomized trials, the STICH trial showed that patients with viability defined by nuclear perfusion imaging or dobutamine echocardiography did not have improved survival with CABG compared with optimal medical therapy. Viability by dobutamine echocardiography was defined as the presence of contractile reserve in at least five segments with baseline dysfunction. The results of dobutamine echocardiography studies published before and after initiation of the STICH trial suggest that the definition of viability utilized in that trial may be suboptimal for assessment of improvement in global function and prognosis in patients undergoing revascularization. Assessment of global contractile reserve using wall motion score (WMS) or ejection fraction may be superior to utilization of a binary definition of viability confined to assessment of contractile reserve in a fixed number of segments because these indices provide information on both the magnitude and extent of contractile reserve of the entire left ventricle (LV).

Summary Assessment of WMS or ejection fraction with dobutamine echocardiography may be the optimal means of evaluating the impact of viability on prognosis.

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Department of Cardiology, Indiana University School of Medicine/Indiana University Health, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Correspondence to Abhishek Khemka, MD, MBA, 1800 N Capitol Avenue, Noyes Building, Suite E371, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA. Tel: +1 317 274 0992; fax: +1 317 963 3340; e-mail:

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