Stress echocardiography (SE) has recently regained momentum as an important diagnostic tool for the assessment of both ischemic and non-ischemic heart disease. Performing SE during physical exercise is challenging due to a suboptimal patient position and vigorous movements of the patient’s chest. This hampers a stable ultrasound position and reduces the diagnostic performance of SE. A stable ultrasound probe position would facilitate producing high quality images during continuous measurements. With Probefix (Usono, Eindhoven, The Netherlands), a newly developed tool to fixate the ultrasound probe to the patient’s chest, stabilization of the probe during physical exercise is possible.
Implementation and results
The technique of SE with the Probefix and its’ feasibility are evaluated in a small pilot study. Probefix fixates the ultrasound probe to the patient’s chest, using two chest straps and a fixation device. The ultrasound probe position and angle may be altered with a relative high degree of freedom. We tested the Probefix for continuous echocardiographic imaging in 12 study subjects during supine and upright ergometer stress tests. One patient was unable to perform exercise and in two study subjects good quality images were not achieved. In the other patients (82%) a stable probe position was obtained, with subsequent good quality echocardiographic images during SE.
We have demonstrated the feasibility of the Probefix support during ergometer tests in supine and upright positions and conclude that this external fixator may facilitate continuous monitoring of cardiac function in a group of patients.