Myocardial perfusion scintigraphy during maximal coronary artery vasodilation with adenosine
Pharmacologic coronary vasodilation as an adjunct to thallium-201 myocardial perfusion scintigraphy provides an important alternative form of stress that has been increasingly used in patients unable to perform an exercise stress test. Although dipyridamole has traditionally been used for this purpose, there are several compelling reasons why adenosine may be a preferable agent. First, dipyridamole acts by blocking the reuptake and transport of adenosine, which is the effective substance responsible for coronary vasodilation. Second, exogenous adenosine has a very short half-life (less than 2 seconds), which explains its very short duration of action as well as the brief, self-limiting duration of its side effects. Third, the adenosine infusion is controllable and may be increased or decreased as desired. Fourth, the coronary vasodilation induced by the doses of adenosine we recommend (140 micrograms/kg/min) may be more profound than that induced by the standard dipyridamole dose. Our experience to date, with nearly 1,000 patients studied, shows the adenosine thallium-201 test to be practical and well tolerated, with high sensitivity (87%) and specificity (94%) for detecting coronary artery disease.