Gewirtz, H., A. J. Fischman, S. Abraham, M. Gilson, H. W. Strauss and N. M. Alpert. Positron emission tomographic measurements of absolute regional myocardial blood flow permits identification of nonviable myocardium in patients with chronic myocardial infarction. J Am Coll Cardiol. 23:851-9., 1994.
OBJECTIVES. This study tested the hypothesis that nonviable myocardium can be identified by quantitative measurements of regional myocardial blood flow obtained using positron emission tomography in conjunction with a mathematical model of nitrogen-13 (N-13) ammonia tracer kinetics. BACKGROUND. Under steady state basal conditions there is a minimal level of blood flow required to sustain myocardial viability. Therefore, the hypothesis predicts that regions with flow below a certain threshold are likely to be composed primarily of scar. METHODS. Studies were conducted in 26 patients with chronic myocardial infarction. Positron emission tomographic measurements of basal regional myocardial blood flow (N-13 ammonia) and fluorine-18 (F-18) fluorodeoxyglucose uptake were made and correlated with information about coronary anatomy and regional wall motion to assess myocardial viability. RESULTS. In patients with chronic myocardial infarction, normal zone blood flow (0.81 +/- 0.32 ml/min per g [mean +/- SD]) was greater (p < 0.02) than that of border zones (0.59 +/- 0.29 ml/min per g), which in turn exceeded (p < 0.001) that of infarct zone flow (0.27 +/- 0.17 ml/min per g). Good correlation was noted between relative F- 18 fluorodeoxyglucose uptake and relative regional myocardial blood flow in all zones (r = 0.63, p < 0.001). Mismatch between blood flow and F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose uptake, with a single exception, was not observed in any segment with blood flow < 0.25 ml/min per g. All dyskinetic segments (n = 5) also had blood flow < 0.25 ml/min per g. In contrast, 43 of 45 myocardial segments (23 patients) with normal contraction or only mild hypokinesia had flow > or = 0.39 ml/min per g (average flow 0.78 +/- 0.35 ml/min per g). CONCLUSIONS. In patients with chronic myocardial infarction, myocardial viability is unlikely when basal regional myocardial blood flow is < 0.25 ml/min per g. Average basal flow in segments with normal or nearly normal wall motion is 0.78 +/- 0.35 ml/min per g. Thus, positron emission tomographic measurement of regional myocardial blood flow is helpful in identifying nonviable myocardium in these patients.