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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1988 Jul;12(1):25-34.

Superiority of quantitative exercise thallium-201 variables in determining long-term prognosis in ambulatory patients with chest pain: a comparison with cardiac catheterization.

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Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.


The purpose of this study was to determine the prognostic utility of quantitative exercise thallium-201 imaging and compare it with that of cardiac catheterization in ambulatory patients. Accordingly, long-term (4 to 9 years) follow-up was obtained in 293 patients who underwent both tests for the evaluation of chest pain: 89 had undergone coronary artery bypass graft surgery within 3 months of testing and were excluded from analysis, 119 experienced no cardiac events and 91 had an event (death in 20, nonfatal myocardial infarction in 21 and coronary artery bypass operations performed greater than 3 months after cardiac catheterization in 50). When all variables were analyzed using Cox regression analysis, the quantitatively assessed lung/heart ratio of thallium-201 activity was the most important predictor of a future cardiac event (chi 2 = 40.21). Other significant predictors were the number of diseased vessels (chi 2 = 17.11), patient gender (chi 2 = 9.43) and change in heart rate from rest to exercise (chi 2 = 4.19). Whereas the number of diseased vessels was an important independent predictor of cardiac events, it did not add significantly to the overall ability of the exercise thallium-201 test to predict events. Furthermore, information obtained from thallium-201 imaging alone was marginally superior to that obtained from cardiac catheterization alone (p = 0.04) and significantly superior to that obtained from exercise testing alone (p = 0.02) in determining the occurrence of events. In addition, unlike the exercise thallium-201 test, which could predict the occurrence of all categories of events, catheterization data were not able to predict the occurrence of nonfatal myocardial infarction. The exclusion of bypass surgery and previous myocardial infarction did not alter the results. In conclusion, data from this study demonstrate that exercise thallium-201 imaging may be superior to data from both exercise testing alone and cardiac catheterization data alone for predicting future events in ambulatory patients who have undergone both exercise thallium-201 imaging and catheterization for the evaluation of chest pain.

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