Objectives: The aim of this study was to test whether the contractile response of akinetic myocardium to low dose dobutamine is useful for detecting myocardial viability in patients with coronary artery disease and persistent left ventricular dysfunction.
Background: In some patients with chronic coronary artery disease, persistent abnormalities of left ventricular wall motion can be reversed by successful coronary artery bypass surgery. Thus, identification of potentially reversible dysfunction has important therapeutic and prognostic implications. Echocardiography during infusion of low dose dobutamine can detect viable myocardium in patients after thrombolytic therapy. However, there is no detailed information on the use of this method in patients with chronic left ventricular dysfunction without reperfusion.
Methods: We studied 33 selected patients with angiographically proved coronary artery disease and persistent left ventricular dysfunction. The effect of dobutamine infusion (5 micrograms/kg body weight per min, followed by 10 micrograms/kg per min) on left ventricular wall motion was evaluated by transthoracic echocardiography before coronary artery bypass grafting and compared with that obtained immediately after the operation (evaluated by intraoperative epicardial echocardiography) and both 2 weeks and 3 months later. Left ventricular wall motion was analyzed qualitatively by dividing the left ventricle into 16 segments, and a score was assigned to each region.
Results: Before coronary artery bypass surgery, 314 segments were akinetic. Of these, 183 became normokinetic immediately after revascularization, and 15 became hypokinetic. Dobutamine infusion was able to predict improvement in 178 of the 205 segments that recovered function after revascularization (sensitivity 86.8%) and to identify 89 of the 109 segments that did not recover postoperatively (specificity 81.6%). Mean (+/- SD) segment scores were 2.24 +/- 0.35 at baseline, 1.49 +/- 0.34 (p < 0.001) after dobutamine infusion, 1.51 +/- 0.38 (p < 0.001) immediately after and 1.51 +/- 0.38 (p < 0.001) 2 weeks after coronary artery bypass and 1.55 +/- 0.37 (p < 0.001) at 3-month follow-up.
Conclusions: Echocardiography during infusion of low dose dobutamine is a safe and accurate method for identifying reversible dysfunctioning myocardium and predicts early reversibility of wall motion after surgical revascularization in selected patients with coronary artery disease with chronic left ventricular dysfunction.