Objectives: We sought to assess the comparative diagnostic accuracy of adenosine versus exercise in conjunction with thallium-201 scintigraphy for the detection and localization of coronary artery disease in patients with left bundle branch block on the rest electrocardiogram (ECG).
Background: Patients with left bundle branch block on the rest ECG frequently have artifactual reversible septal perfusion defects on exercise thallium-201 scintigraphy. Adenosine thallium scintigraphy is a theoretically attractive alternative in these patients.
Methods: One hundred seventy-three consecutive patients with left bundle branch block were evaluated with either exercise thallium (n = 56) or adenosine thallium (n = 117) scintigraphy. The tomographic thallium images were interpreted visually with adjunctive quantitative analysis. Follow-up cardiac catheterization was performed in 31 of the 56 patients in the exercise thallium group and 42 of the 117 patients in the adenosine thallium group.
Results: Minor subjective side effects were noted in most patients in the adenosine thallium group (86%); atrioventricular block occurred in seven patients (6%). The overall predictive accuracy was 93% in the adenosine thallium group and 68% in the exercise thallium group (p = 0.01). The combined specificity for the detection of disease in the coronary arteries subtending the septum (the left anterior descending and right coronary arteries) was only 42% with exercise thallium scintigraphy versus 82% with adenosine thallium scintigraphy (p < 0.0002).
Conclusions: Adenosine thallium imaging 1) was superior to exercise thallium imaging in the detection of coronary artery disease in patients with left bundle branch block; 2) obviated septal artifacts, thereby markedly improving the specificity in the left anterior descending and right coronary arteries; and 3) was safe in patients with left bundle branch block.