Comparison of Adverse Event Rates

Major Adverse Events With Common Cardiovascular Tests
Procedure Adverse Event(s) Risk
Coronary angiography Death 1/1,000
Dobutamine stress test MI, VF 1/2,000
Exercise stress test MI or death 1/2,500
SPECT (nuclear) exam or
radionuclide ventriculography
Fatal malignancy 1/1,000 - 1/10,000
Iodinated contrast agents Life-threatening reactions
(potential or immediate)
HO - 1/500
LO - 1/5,000
Ultrasound contrast agents Anaphylactoid reaction
Severe fatal allergic reaction


“(T)he literature does not support the occurrence of systemic, predictable, adverse events during contrast echocardiography. Consequently, to quote Sherlock Holmes: ‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ Thus, contrary to our fears and against odds, contrast echocardiography appears to be safe in humans. We should use it to improve patient care.”

Kaul and Wei, Guest Editorial, European Journal of Echocardiography (2009) 10, 713-15 (


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