Digital subtraction angiography permits high resolution imaging of the left ventricle after an intravenous injection of contrast medium. The capacity of digital subtraction angiography to detect ischaemic wall motion abnormalities was tested in 150 consecutive patients without myocardial infarction who were referred for coronary angiography. Digital ventriculograms were considered to be abnormal if there was a severe wall motion abnormality at rest or if segmental wall motion deteriorated after exercise. The global ventricular response to exercise was considered to be abnormal if the ventricular ejection fraction computed by the Dodge area length formula was less than 50% at rest or failed to increase after exercise. Seventy eight (52%) of these subjects had stenosis of greater than 50% of at least one major coronary artery. In 36 (24%) more than one major coronary vessel was affected. Sensitivities for the detection of stenoses greater than 50% coronary obstruction were 82% and 69% for an abnormal segmental wall motion response and an abnormal ejection fraction response respectively. The specificity of these test responses was 76% and 68% respectively. No complications resulted from the digital ventriculographic studies. It is concluded that safe adequate digital ventricular imaging at rest and after exercise is possible and that an abnormal wall motion response is a sensitive indicator of important coronary obstructive disease.
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