Prospective evaluation of a new protocol for the provisional use of perfusion imaging with exercise stress testing

W. Lane Duvall, John A. Savino, Elliot J. Levine, Luke K. Hermann, Lori B. Croft, Milena J. Henzlova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: Previous literature suggests that myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) adds little to the prognosis of patients who exercise >10 metabolic equivalents (METs) during stress testing. With this in mind, we prospectively tested a provisional injection protocol in emergency department (ED) patients presenting for the evaluation of chest pain in which a patient would not receive an injection of radioisotope if adequate exercise was achieved without symptoms and a negative ECG response.

Methods: All patients who presented to the ED over a 5-year period who were referred for stress testing as part of their ED evaluation were included. Patients considered for a provisional protocol were: exercise stress, age <65 years, no known coronary artery disease, and an interpretable rest ECG. Criteria for not injecting included a maximal predicted heart rate ≥85 %, ≥10 METs of exercise, no anginal symptoms during stress, and no ECG changes. Groups were compared based on stress test results, all-cause and cardiac mortality, follow-up cardiac testing, subsequent revascularization, and cost.

Results: A total of 965 patients were eligible with 192 undergoing exercise-only and 773 having perfusion imaging. After 41.6 ± 19.6 months of follow-up, all-cause mortality was similar in the exercise-only versus the exercise plus imaging group (2.6 % vs. 2.1 %, p = 0.59). There were no cardiac deaths in the exercise-only group. At 1 year there was no difference in the number of repeat functional stress tests (1.6 % vs. 2.1 %, p = 0.43), fewer angiograms (0 % vs. 4.0 %, p = 0.002), and a significantly lower cost ($65 ± $332 vs $506 ± $1,991, p = 0.002; values are in US dollars) in the exercise-only group. The radiation exposure in the exercise plus imaging group was 8.4 ± 2.1 mSv.

Conclusions: A provisional injection protocol has a very low mortality, few follow-up diagnostic tests, and lower cost compared to standard imaging protocols. If adopted it would decrease radiation exposure, save time and decrease health-care costs without jeopardizing prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-316
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2015


  • Exercise capacity
  • Exercise stress testing
  • Myocardial perfusion imaging
  • Radiation reduction


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