, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 16-24

Pharmacologic radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging

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Abstract

Pharmacologic stress testing with myocardial perfusion imaging has enabled patients who cannot complete adequate exercise to undergo diagnostic and prognostic evaluation for coronary artery disease. Pharmacologic stress agents belong to two groups: vasodilators (such as adenosine and dipyridamole), and inotropes (such as dobutamine). All have similar sensitivity (89%-91%) and specificity (78%-86%) for the diagnosis of coronary disease. For risk stratification, the risk of future cardiac events is related to the extent and severity of perfusion abnormalities. Pharmacologic stress testing permits risk stratification as early as 1 to 4 days following an acute myocardial infarction, and is superior to exercise stress testing in this regard. Similarly, it identifies patients at high risk for perioperative cardiac events prior to noncardiac surgery. This review summarizes the current evidence available regarding the diagnostic and prognostic use of pharmacologic stress testing.