Objectives: This study was designed to investigate whether left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) calculated from post-stress single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) reflects the basal value for LVEF or whether post-stress LVEF is reduced in some patients with stress-induced ischemia.
Background: Automated programs are now commercially available for assessing global left ventricular (LV) function from post-stress technetium-99m sestamibi gated SPECT performed >15 min after completion of exercise.
Methods: Eighty-one sequential patients who underwent a 2-day stress/rest sestamibi imaging protocol and showed perfusion defects on the post-stress tomogram underwent gated acquisition of the second-day rest tomogram. The post-stress and rest tomographic images were read for presence, location, severity and reversibility of defects by consensus of two to three experienced observers with the aid of circumferential count displays. Defects were scored as mild, moderate or severe and as completely or partially reversible or fixed, and a summed defect severity score was calculated. Of these 81 scans, 20 showed nonreversible perfusion defects (group 3), whereas 61 showed reversible perfusion defects. Post-stress and rest LVEF was calculated from the processed gated SPECT data. From 15 additional patients who underwent rest gated SPECT studies on separate days, serial reproducibility of LVEF values calculated from the gated SPECT data was determined to be +/-5.2%. Coronary angiography was performed within 3 months of the scan without intervening events in 47 of 81 patients, including 39 of 61 with reversible perfusion defects.
Results: In 22 (36%) of 61 patients with reversible perfusion defects, post-stress LVEF was >5% lower than that at rest (group 2), whereas in the remaining 39 patients, post-stress LVEF was either +/-5% or greater than that at rest (group 1). Segmental chordal shortening analysis performed in group 2 studies showed that differences in chordal shortening between rest and post-stress were significantly greater in the reversible perfusion defect territories than in the nonischemic perfusion defect territories ([mean +/- SD] 0.14 +/- 0.14 vs. 0.02 +/- 0.09, respectively, p < 0.0001). There were no significant differences among groups for any of the following variables: age, gender, previous myocardial infarction and type of stress. Time to imaging and stress and scan variables were correlated with the change in LVEF by univariate analysis, and the two variables that correlated significantly were the summed defect reversibility score on the scan and a left anterior descending coronary artery location of the scan defect. Only summed defect reversibility score was significant on multivariate analysis.
Conclusions: When the only gated sestamibi scan is the post-stress scan, global and regional LV function will not represent basal LV function in all patients with stress-induced ischemia.