Limitations of regional myocardial thallium clearance for identification of disease in individual coronary arteries

Lewis C. Becker, Walter J. Rogers, Jonathan M. Links, Carolyn Corn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to critically evaluate the usefulness of postexercise regional myocardial thallium-201 clearance for identifying disease in individual coronary arteries. Exercise and redistribution planar imaging studies were performed in 114 subjects, including 19 normal volunteers and 95 patients undergoing cardiac catheterization (70 with and 25 without ?50% narrowing in one or more coronary arteries). Thallium clearance was measured from predefined myocardial regions corresponding to the left anterior descending, left circumflex and right coronary arteries and was expressed as the percent decrease in activity at 4 h, assuming monoexponential clearance. In regions perfused by a normal or insignificantly diseased coronary artery, mean 4 h clearance was 58.9 ± 9.4% for normal volunteers, 43.1 ± 15.5% for catheterized patients without coronary artery disease and 36.3 ± 24.9% for catheterized patients with coronary artery disease (p < 0.001 patients with coronary artery disease versus normal volunteers). Clearance from normal regions was significantly associated with two measures of exercise performance: percent of predicted maximal heart rate achieved (r = 0.49) and exercise duration (r = 0.35). In regions perfused by a stenotic coronary artery, mean clearance was lower (31.1 ± 19.8%) but was not significantly different from that in normal regions in the same patients. Clearance from diseased regions was also associated with maximal exercise heart rate (r = 0.28) and exercise duration (r = 0.41), but not with percent coronary artery stenosis (r = 0.02). After taking exercise performance into account, the number of diseased vessels or the presence or absence of disease in a given vessel had little influence on regional thallium clearance. Although measurement of regional post-exercise thallium clearance may help to identify stenotic coronary arteries in selected patients, variability related to exercise performance and other physiologic and technical factors greatly limits the clinical usefulness of absolute thallium clearance measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1491-1500
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 15 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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