Slow late myocardial clearance of thallium: a characteristic phenomenon in coronary artery disease.
We extended the quantitative seven-pinhole method to follow the dynamics of thallium redistribution after exercise. We observed a pattern of slow late thallium clearance that appears to be characteristic of myocardium supplied by obstructed coronary arteries. In 28 subjects, quantitative thallium scintigrams (seven-pinhole tomography, circumferential count profiles) and blood samples for thallium concentration were taken immediately, 2 hours and 4 hours after maximal treadmill exercise. Twenty subjects had coronary artery disease (CAD) and eight were normal. The rate of thallium clearance from the blood (TCB) was compared with the rate of thallium clearance from each segmental region of myocardium (TCM, derived by ratioing corresponding segments of the absolute circumferential count profiles) between the 2- and 4-hour images. In seven of the eight normal subjects, TCM exceeded TCB in all regions of all images (specificity 88%). Seventeen of the 20 CAD patients had at least one region where TCM was less than TCB (sensitivity 85%). Of the 13 patients with multivessel CAD, 11 had multiple regions with TCM less than TCB. Using this criterion, we detected 31 of 39 obstructed coronary arteries. Of the 37 regions that were abnormal by this analysis, 30 corresponded to obstructed coronary arteries. In contrast, while conventional circumferential count profile analysis also was abnormal in 17 of the 20 CAD patients, it diagnosed multivessel CAD in only five of the 13 patients that had it. These results show that slow late thallium clearance from myocardium is characteristic of regions of myocardium supplied by diseased coronary arteries and that observation of this phenomenon may improve diagnostic sensitivity for the presence of multivessel CAD.
- Copyright © 1982 by American Heart Association