Dipyridamole perfusion scintigraphy

Semin Nucl Med. 1991 Jul;21(3):242-65. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(05)80044-3.


Dipyridamole is one of several agents that may be infused intravenously to nonivasively evaluate coronary perfusion without dynamic exercise. Among such agents it is the most investigated, and it is associated with the greatest clinical experience. Its mechanism of action utilizes intrinsic adenosine and does not require the induction of ischemia. Rather, the method tests the coronary flow reserve by dilating the precapillary and arteriolar capillary beds. Vessels with a limited coronary flow reserve demonstrate reduced responsiveness with relative flow reduction and a resultant defect on perfusion scintigraphy. Side effects are common and generally benign, but deaths have been reported and they generally relate to severe hypotension, prolonged dense ischemia and resultant infarction, or bronchospasm. Severe complications are rare and can be avoided by the prompt administration of aminophylline, the dipyridample antedote. Diagnostic accuracy for the identification of coronary disease appears similar to that for exercise perfusion scintigraphy. It should be applied to patients with known or suspected coronary disease who require coronary evaluation, but who cannot exercise adequately for diagnostic or prognostic purposes. In such patients, the method is useful for the preoperative assessment of risk at peripheral vascular and other major noncardiac surgery. It may be of value as well in the assessment of the otherwise uncomplicated patient postinfarction. Not yet established is its application to the patient with unstable angina or in the acute setting, after coronary reperfusion. Similarly, its comparison with direct adenosine infusion or with pharmacological agents whose mechanism rests entirely on ischemia induction, as does dobutamine, has until now been limited. Unlike its use with perfusion scintigraphy, the application of dipyridamole with echocardiography and other functional ischemic indicators is totally dependent on the induction of ischemia. This is likely less frequent than the induction of nonischemic perfusion heterogeneity. The agent is now commonly available and will make a significant beneficial impact on patient evaluation and management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Dipyridamole* / adverse effects
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Thallium Radioisotopes*


  • Thallium Radioisotopes
  • Dipyridamole