An assessment of the positive predictive value and cost-effectiveness of dipyridamole myocardial scintigraphy in patients undergoing vascular surgery

J Vasc Surg. 1994 Jan;19(1):112-21; discussion 121-4. doi: 10.1016/s0741-5214(94)70126-1.


Purpose: The approach to cardiac risk stratification of patients undergoing vascular surgery continues to be controversial. The success of algorithms that use clinical risk factors to determine cardiac risk have been inconsistent. Dipyridamole myocardial scintigraphy (DMS) has been accepted as a sensitive, noninvasive approach to risk stratification with excellent negative predictive value. Low positive predictive value (PPV) of abnormal DMS scans is a shortcoming that contributes to extensive preoperative cardiac evaluation and intervention with associated morbidity, mortality, and cost in most patients who undergo uncomplicated vascular procedures, regardless of DMS results.

Methods: Over 6 years, 237 patients underwent DMS before surgical management of infrarenal aortic aneurysm, aortoiliac, or infrainguinal occlusive disease. The value of multiple clinical factors and DMS were assessed retrospectively for the prediction of perioperative myocardial infarction (MI), heart-related death, or preoperative selection for myocardial revascularization. Only congestive heart failure and two or more reversible defects on DMS were statistically significant on logistic regression analysis.

Results: The PPV of DMS was 19% for all patients with reversible defects, 12% for patients with one reversible defect, and 36.7% for patients with two or more reversible defects. The rates of cardiac death and MI were 1.3% and 5.9%, respectively. Perioperative echocardiography revealed unchanged postinfarction ejection fraction in most patients who experienced MI. Cost-effectiveness of DMS screening was evaluated.

Conclusions: The costs per MI and cardiac death averted suggest a decline in cost-effectiveness of screening with DMS over time, assuming improving cardioprotective strategies of patient care. Clinical risk factors were minimally useful in the prediction of perioperative MI, heart-related death, or need for myocardial revascularization. The PPV of DMS is low, and the majority of MIs may be clinically insignificant. The cost-effectiveness of cardiac screening with DMS may not be justifiable given current trends of health care reform.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Dipyridamole*
  • Echocardiography
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Preoperative Care / economics*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Dipyridamole