Comparative assessment of coronary physiology using transthoracic pulsed-wave Doppler and myocardial contrast echocardiography in rats

Eur Radiol Exp. 2023 Feb 9;7(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s41747-022-00319-4.


Background: Coronary physiology assessment in rodents by ultrasound is an excellent noninvasive and easy to perform technique, including pulsed-wave Doppler (PWD) and myocardial contrast echocardiography (MCE). Both techniques and the corresponding calculated parameters were investigated in this study at rest as well as their response to pharmacologically induced stress.

Methods: Left ventricular myocardial function was assessed in eight anaesthetised rats using transthoracic echocardiography. Coronary physiology was assessed by both PWD of the left coronary artery and MCE using a bolus method. Measurements were performed at rest and under stimulation with adenosine and dobutamine. Effects of stimulation on the calculated parameters were evaluated and rated by effect size (η2).

Results: Changes could be demonstrated by selected parameters of PWD and MCE. The clearest effect in PWD was found for diastolic peak velocity (η2 = 0.58). It increased from 528 ± 110 mm/s (mean ± standard deviation) at rest to 839 ± 342 mm/s (p = 0.001) with adenosine and 1093 ± 302 mm/s with dobutamine (p = 0.001). The most distinct effect from MCE was found for the normalised wash-in rate (η2 = 0.58). It increased from 1.95 ± 0.35% at rest to 3.87 ± 0.85% with adenosine (p = 0.001) and 3.72 ± 1.03% with dobutamine (p = 0.001).

Conclusion: Induced changes in coronary physiology by adenosine and dobutamine could successfully be monitored using MCE and PWD in anaesthetised rats. Due to the low invasiveness of the measurements, this protocol could be used for longitudinal animal studies.

Keywords: Adenosine; Coronary vessels; Dobutamine; Echocardiography; Rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Coronary Circulation* / physiology
  • Coronary Vessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Dobutamine* / pharmacology
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Rats


  • Dobutamine
  • Adenosine