The frequency of late reversibility in SPECT thallium-201 stress-redistribution studies

L. D. Yang, D. S. Berman*, H. Kiat, K. J. Resser, J. D. Friedman, A. Rozanski, J. Maddahi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


The frequency of thallium-201 late reversibility was prospectively assessed in 118 patients who had stress-redistribution thallium-201 studies by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). These patients demonstrated two or more segments with nonreversible defects at 4 h imaging and underwent late (18 to 72 h) redistribution imaging. When the criterion of late reversibility was defined as ≥ 1 segment with 4 h nonreversible defects demonstrating late reversibility, it was present in 62 (53%) of the 118 patients and 164 (22%) of 762 segments. When the criterion of ≥ 2 segments was used, late reversibility was found in 41 (35%) of 118 patients and 143 (19%) of 762 segments. The frequency of detected reversible defects increased from 27% at 4 h imaging to 43% at combined 4 h and late imaging (p < 0.0001) and was significantly increased in all myocardial regions. In comparing the efficacy of initial and late imaging alone versus performing initial, 4 h and late imaging for the identification of reversible defects, 421 (94%) of 449 segments classified as reversible by the latter protocol were also correctly identified by the early and late imaging only approach, with the remaining 6% (28 segments) comprising those segments demonstrating the reversible pattern at 4 h and the nonreversible pattern at late imaging. No major differences were noted with respect to clinical, stress electrocardiographic and scintigraphic variables between the 118 patients undergoing late imaging and 98 additional randomly selected patients with two or more nonreversible defects at 4 h, who did not have late imaging. This similarity suggests that the frequency of late reversibility seen in this study is likely to be close to that which would be observed in an unselected group of patients referred for thallium-201 stress testing. It is concluded that late reversibility of thallium-201 perfusion defects is common and often extensive. Late redistribution imaging should be considered when 4 h nonreversible defects are present. Initial and late imaging alone may be a reasonable alternative approach to stress-redistribution thallium-201 imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-340
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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