Improved identification of coronary artery disease in patients with left bundle branch block by use of dobutamine stress echocardiography and comparison with myocardial perfusion tomography
This study compared the efficacy of dobutamine stress testing using 2-dimensional echocardiography and perfusion tomography for the noninvasive identification of coronary artery disease (CAD) in patients with left bundle branch block (LBBB). Twenty-four patients with permanent, complete LBBB (11 with previous myocardial infarction) were studied prospectively with dobutamine echocardiography and perfusion tomography. The presence of > 50% luminal diameter coronary stenosis was compared with the presence of dobutamine-induced fixed or reversible perfusion defects, and with resting or dobutamine-induced abnormalities of wall thickening. For each test, the left anterior coronary artery territory was compared with the circumflex and/or right coronary artery. Significant CAD was found in the left anterior descending coronary artery in 12 patients; all (100%) were identified by perfusion imaging, and 10 (83%, p = NS) by 2-dimensional stress echocardiography. In the 12 patients without left anterior descending CAD, scintigraphy was also positive in all (specificity: 0%), and echocardiography in only 1 (specificity: 92%, p < 0.01). The diagnostic accuracy was 50% and 87% (p < 0.05), respectively. This low specificity of perfusion tomography was improved by requiring an associated apical defect to indicate left anterior descending CAD and was corrected by restricting the diagnosis of coronary disease to those patients with partially reversible defects. In the circumflex and/or right coronary artery territory, sensitivity and specificity were similar using both techniques. We conclude that dobutamine-stress echocardiography is a specific and accurate test for the noninvasive identification of CAD, even in the left anterior descending artery territory of patients with LBBB.