Thallium reinjection demonstrates viable myocardium in regions with reverse redistribution

Jose A. Marin-Neto, Vasken Dilsizian, James A. Arrighi, Nanette M T Freedman, Pasquale Perrone-Filardi, Stephen L. Bacharach, Robert O. Bonow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background. The clinical significance and pathophysiological mechanisms of reverse redistribution on stress-redistribution thallium-201 myocardial scintigraphy in patients with chronic coronary artery disease are unclear. Recent studies have shown that thallium-201 reinjection is a useful technique for the detection of myocardial viability in chronic coronary artery disease. In this investigation we determined whether thallium reinjection distinguishes viable from nonviable myocardium in regions with reverse redistribution. Methods and Results. We studied 39 patients with chronic stable coronary artery disease (age, 60±10 years), all of whom demonstrated reverse redistribution on standard exercise-redistribution thallium single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Reverse redistribution was denned as >10% decrease in relative thallium-201 activity between stress and redistribution images and included either the worsening of a perfusion defect apparent on post-stress images or the appearance of a new defect on the redistribution images. Thallium reinjection was performed immediately after the 3- to 4-hour redistribution study. Of 39 regions with reverse redistribution, 32 (82%) showed enhanced thallium-201 activity (>10% increase) after reinjection. In the other 7 regions (18%), the scintigraphic defect persisted after reinjection. Abnormal Q waves were present in only 8 of 32 (25%) regions with enhanced thallium-201 uptake after reinjection compared with S of 7 (71%) regions not responding to reinjection (P<.05). Akinetic or dyskinetic wall motion was present in 3 of 32 (9%) regions showing enhanced uptake after reinjection, in contrast with 5 of 7 (71%) regions not responding to reinjection (P<.01). Critically stenosed or totally occluded coronary arteries supplied 24 of 29 (83%) regions with enhanced thallium-201 uptake after reinjection but only 2 of 7 (28%) regions not showing a positive response to reinjection (P<.05). Collateral circulation was detected in 23 of 29 (79%) regions with a positive thallium reinjection effect but in only 1 of the other 7 regions (JP<.01). Sixteen of the 39 patients also underwent positron emission tomography using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) to assess glucose utilization and H215O to assess regional blood flow. The 14 regions with reverse redistribution that responded to reinjection with enhanced thallium uptake all showed either normal patterns of FDG uptake and flow or an ischemic pattern with increased FDG uptake relative to flow. Reduced FDG uptake and reduced flow values were seen in the two regions not responding to thallium reinjection. Conclusions. These observations indicate that reverse redistribution in chronic coronary artery disease usually reflects viable myocardium, critically dependent upon collateral circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1736-1745
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1993


  • Collateral circulation
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Myocardium
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Thallium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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