Contrast and harmonic imaging improves accuracy and efficiency of novice readers for dobutamine stress echocardiography

Irmien Vlassak*, David N. Rubin, Jill A. Odabashian, Mario J. Garcia, Lisa M. King, Steve S. Lin, Jeanne K. Drinko, Annitta J. Morehead, David L. Prior, Craig R. Asher, Allan L. Klein, James D. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Newer contrast agents as well as tissue harmonic imaging enhance left ventricular (LV) endocardial border delineation, and therefore, improve LV wall-motion analysis. Interpretation of dobutamine stress echocardiography is observer-dependent and requires experience. This study was performed to evaluate whether these new imaging modalities would improve endocardial visualization and enhance accuracy and efficiency of the inexperienced reader interpreting dobutamine stress echocardiography. Methods and Results: Twenty-nine consecutive patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease underwent dobutamine stress echocardiography. Both fundamental (2.5 MHZ) and harmonic (1.7 and 3.5 MHZ) mode images were obtained in four standard views at rest and at peak stress during a standard dobutamine infusion stress protocol. Following the noncontrast images, Optison was administered intravenously in bolus (0.5-3.0 ml), and fundamental and harmonic images were obtained. The dobutamine echocardiography studies were reviewed by one experienced and one inexperienced echocardiographer. LV segments were graded for image quality and function. Time for interpretation also was recorded. Contrast with harmonic imaging improved the diagnostic concordance of the novice reader to the expert reader by 7.1%, 7.5%, and 12.6% (P < 0.001) as compared with harmonic imaging, fundamental imaging, and fundamental imaging with contrast, respectively. For the novice reader, reading time was reduced by 47%, 55%, and 58% (P < 0.005) as compared with the time needed for fundamental, fundamental contrast, and harmonic modes, respectively. With harmonic imaging, the image quality score was 4.6% higher (P < 0.001) than for fundamental imaging. Image quality scores were not significantly different for noncontrast and contrast images. Conclusion: Harmonic imaging with contrast significantly improves the accuracy and efficiency of the novice dobutamine stress echocardiography reader. The use of harmonic imaging reduces the frequency of nondiagnostic wall segments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-488
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2002


  • Contrast
  • Echocardiography
  • Harmonic imaging
  • Image quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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