BACKGROUND:Postsystolic thickening (PST) of ischemic myocardial segments has been reported to account for the characteristic heterogeneity or regional asynchrony of myocardial wall motion during acute ischemia. HYPOTHESIS:Postsystolic thickening detected by Doppler myocardial imaging (DMI) could be a useful clinical index of myocardial viability or peri-infarction viability in patients with myocardial infarction (MI). METHODS:Doppler myocardial imaging was recorded at each stage of a standard dobutamine stress echocardiogram (DSE) in 20 patients (16 male, 60 +/- 13 years) with an MI in the territory of the left anterior descending artery. Myocardial velocity data were measured in the interventricular septum and apical inferior segment of the MI territory. Postsystolic thickening was identified if the absolute velocity of PST was higher than peak systolic velocity in the presence of either a resting PST > 2.0 cm/s or if PST doubled at low-dose dobutamine infusion. RESULTS:Doppler myocardial imaging data could be analyzed in 38 ischemic segments (95%), and PST was observed in 21 segments (55%), including 3 segments showing PST only at low-dose dobutamine infusion. There was no significant difference of baseline wall motion score index (2.1 +/- 0.3 vs. 2.1 +/- 0.6, p = 0.77) or peak systolic velocity (1.1 +/- 1.1 vs. 1.9 +/- 2.0 cm/s, p = 0.05) between segments with and without PST. Peri-infarction ischemia or viability during DSE was more frequently observed in segments with PST than in those without (86 vs. 24%, p < 0.05). The sensitivity and specificity of PST for prediction of peri-infarction viability or ischemia was 82 and 81%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS:Postsystolic thickening in the infarct territory detected by DMI is closely related with peri-infarction ischemia or viability at DSE.