Background: Viability and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) are essential measures for the assessment of myocardial infarction (MI). These 2 variables may be evaluated simultaneously by means of thallium-201 gated single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT); however, the precision and accuracy of LVEF measurements with this isotope remain controversial, particularly in cases of extended perfusion defects and poor count densities.
Methods and results: Fifty patients with a history of MI underwent a 20-minute rest and a 4-hour redistribution Tl-201 gated SPECT viability protocol, immediately followed by a technetium-99m planar equilibrium radionuclide angiography (ERNA). On gated SPECT images, various count statistics were calculated, and perfusion was automatically quantified by means of CardioMatch, which provided both the size and severity of MI defects. Rest and redistribution LVEFs were determined from gated SPECT with Germano's algorithm, whereas LVEFs were calculated from ERNA using the manufacturer's software. Mean LVEF values calculated with rest gated SPECT, redistribution gated SPECT, and planar ERNA were 30% +/- 13%, 30% +/- 13% and 33% +/- 13%, respectively. Significant differences between repeated gated SPECT LVEFs were not shown by means of the paired t test. Correlation coefficients were high between 20-minute and 4-hour scans (r = 0.89) and between gated SPECT and ERNA (r = 0.88 and r = 0.92 at 20 minutes and 4 hours, respectively). Additionally, close agreement between gated SPECT and ERNA was shown by means of the Bland-Altman plot, despite an underestimation of 3 units. Finally, neither the technical conditions (count density, heart rate, lung uptake, etc) nor the perfusion alteration (size, severity, redistribution) appeared to interfere with the precision and accuracy of gated SPECT LVEF measurement.
Conclusion: Tl-201 gated SPECT is a precise method for assessing LVEF within the same patient at 4-hour intervals, even with a substantial count decay, and it gives accurate results compared with planar ERNA, even in the case of large perfusion defects.