Limitation of space and motion artefact make magnetic resonance imaging during dynamic exercise difficult. Pharmacological stress with dipyridamole can be used as an alternative to exercise for thallium scanning. Forty patients with a history of angina and an abnormal exercise electrocardiogram were studied by dipyridamole thallium myocardial perfusion tomography and dipyridamole magnetic resonance wall motion imaging with a cine gradient refocused sequence. Images for both scans were obtained in the oblique horizontal and vertical long axis and short axis planes before and after pharmacological stress with dipyridamole. The myocardium was divided into nine segments for direct comparison of perfusion with wall motion. Segments were assessed visually into grades--normal, hypokinesis or reduced perfusion, and akinesis or very reduced perfusion. After dipyridamole there were reversible wall motion abnormalities in 24 (62%) of 39 patients with coronary artery disease and 24 (67%) of 36 patients with reversible thallium defects. The site of wall motion deterioration was always the site of a reversible thallium defect. Thallium defects affecting more than two segments were always associated with wall motion deterioration but most single segment thallium defects were undetected by magnetic resonance imaging. There was a significant correlation between detection of wall motion abnormality, the angiographic severity of coronary artery disease, and the induction of chest pain by dipyridamole. There were no significant differences in ventricular volume or ejection fraction changes after dipyridamole between the groups with and without detectable reversible wall motion changes but the normalised magnetic resonance signal intensity of the abnormally moving segments was significantly less than the signal intensity of the normal segments. In nine patients the change was apparent visually and it was maximal in the subendocardial region. Magnetic resonance imaging of reversible wall motion abnormalities in patients with coronary artery disease is feasible during pharmacological stress with dipyridamole and may be associated with a reduced magnetic resonance signal. The failure to show wall motion abnormalities in all cases of reversible thallium defects may be because the defect was small or because dipyridamole caused perfusion defects in the absence of myocardial ischaemia.
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