June 10, 2008 - The use of ultrasound contrast agents during stress echocardiograms is safe, according to results presented at the 19th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Society of Echocardiography.
These findings are significant after the FDA mandated a black box warning on labels of contrast agents used for cardiovascular ultrasound.
The research, conducted at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston, TX, showed the risk of major adverse effects is no different in patients that received contrast during their stress echocardiogram than in those who did not receive contrast, according to research findings. This held true even though contrast was more often used in patients with a higher cardiac risk profile.
The study examined 3,121 consecutive patients who underwent stress echocardiograms from 2002 through 2007 at The Methodist Hospital.
Researchers evaluated demographics, contrast use, hemodynamics, ECG and wall motion changes, symptoms and arrhythmias. Contrast was administered in 1,879 of 3,121 patients (60 percent). None of the patients receiving an ultrasound contrast agent experienced sustained ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, cardiac arrest or death.
"Contrast-enhanced stress echocardiography is a safe option to attain important diagnostic information for patients who need more testing than cardiac ultrasound alone," said Kamran Shaikh, M.D., postdoctoral echocardiography fellow at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center. "Our research found no link between its use and adverse events or any reason why it shouldn't be available to cardiologists whose patients would benefit from it."
For more information: www.debakeyheartcenter.com