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Circulation. 1991 Jan;83(1):26-37.

Identification of viable myocardium in patients with chronic coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction. Comparison of thallium scintigraphy with reinjection and PET imaging with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose.

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  • 1Cardiology Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. 20892.


In patients with chronic coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction, the distinction between ventricular dysfunction arising from myocardial fibrosis and ischemic, but viable, myocardium has important clinical implications. By positron emission tomography (PET), enhanced fluorine-18-labeled fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake in myocardial segments with impaired function and reduced blood flow is evidence of myocardial viability. Reinjection of thallium-201 at rest immediately after stress-redistribution imaging may also provide evidence of myocardial viability by demonstrating thallium uptake in regions with apparently "irreversible" defects. To compare these two methods, we studied 16 patients with chronic coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction (ejection fraction, 27 +/- 9%), all of whom had irreversible defects on standard exercise-redistribution thallium single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging. Thallium was reinjected immediately after the redistribution study, and SPECT images were reacquired. The patients also underwent PET imaging with FDG and oxygen-15-labeled water. A total of 432 myocardial segments were analyzed from comparable transaxial tomograms, of which 166 (38%) had irreversible thallium defects on redistribution images before reinjection. FDG uptake was demonstrated in 121 (73%) of these irreversible defects. Irreversible defects were then subgrouped according to the degree of thallium activity, relative to peak activity in normal regions. Irreversible defects with only mild (60-85% of peak activity) or moderate (50-59% of peak) reduction in thallium activity were considered viable on the basis of FDG uptake in 91% and 84% of these segments, respectively. In contrast, in irreversible defects with severe reduction in thallium activity (less than 50% of peak), FDG uptake was present in 51% of segments. In such severe defects, an identical number of segments (51%) demonstrated enhanced uptake of thallium after reinjection. In these severe "irreversible" defects, data on myocardial viability were concordant by the two techniques in 88% of segments, with 45% identified as viable and 43% identified as scar on both PET and thallium reinjection studies. These observations suggest that thallium imaging can be used to identify viable myocardium in patients with chronic coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction. Most irreversible defects with only mild or moderate reduction in thallium activity represent viable myocardium as confirmed by FDG uptake.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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