Prevalence of abnormal SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging during the COVID-19 pandemic

Academic Article


  • Purpose: The aim of this study is to evaluate the rate of abnormal myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) studies at a single medical center during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to prior to the pandemic. Methods: We retrospectively studied stress single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)-MPI studies performed during the peak of COVID-19 restrictions at the University of Alabama Medical Center in comparison to the same time period in 2019. Results: SPECT-MPI volume was reduced from 553 per month in 2019 to 105 per month in 2020. The proportion of abnormal SPECT-MPI for the 2020 cohort (61 ± 13 years, 48% men, 41% black) was not different from the 2019 cohort (62 ± 12 years, 48% men, 42% black) (31% vs. 27%, p = 0.4). Similar proportion of patients in the 2 cohorts had abnormal myocardial perfusion, moderate-large perfusion defects, myocardial ischemia, myocardial scar, and abnormal left ventricular ejection fraction. The proportion of abnormal SPECT-MPIs was not different based on whether patients were evaluated face-to-face or by telemedicine (28% vs. 27%, p > 0.9) but was higher for cardiology providers (40% vs. 20%, p < 0.001). Conclusions: There was a significant reduction in the number of SPECT-MPI studies performed during the peak restrictions from the pandemic. Despite this restriction, the rate of abnormal studies remained stable. Our study suggests that it remains difficult to predict which patients will have abnormal SPECT-MPI even when providers and stress laboratories are forced to prioritize the performance of studies to high-yield patients.
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    Author List

  • Hasnie UA; Bhambhvani P; Iskandrian AE; Hage FG