Low-dose Dobutamine Stress Myocardial Contrast Echocardiography for the Evaluation of Myocardial Microcirculation and Prediction of Overall Cardiac Function Recovery

The study aimed to investigate the role of low-dose dobutamine stress myocardial contrast echocardiography (MCE) in evaluating myocardial local microcirculation and predicting cardiac function recovery in patients with myocardial infarction. A total of 50 patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) were enrolled in the present study. Positron emission tomography was used as a gold standard to determine viable/non-viable myocardial segments in infarcted myocardial region. MCE and dobutamine stress MCE were carried out 72 h after PCI. MCE was carried out again to evaluate myocardial condition at 6 months after PCI. As compared with normal myocardial segments, resting MCE revealed a significant decrease of the values of A (the peak intensity of the time-perfusion intensity curve, reflecting the myocardial blood volume), β (the slope of the curve, reflecting the myocardial blood flow (MBF) velocity) and A x β (reflecting MBF) of viable and non-viable myocardial segments.

After being challenged by dobutamine, the values of A, β and A x β of normal coronary blood supply areas were significantly increased; while the segments A and A x β of viable myocardium were markedly decreased. Patients were further divided into two groups based on the changes in the contrast-enhanced index (CSI) following dobutamine loading. In the dobutamine stress echocardiography-positive group (the CSI increased or decreased by >0.2), the left ventricular ejection fraction was significantly increased and pro-B-type natriuretic peptide significantly decreased at 6 months following intervention. Low-dose dobutamine stress MCE was indicated to be an effective method to evaluate myocardial microcirculation perfusion in patients with AMI following PCI. In addition, CSI, as a simple semi-quantitative index, may predict left ventricular function in patients with AMI.