Background: While the value of myocardial scintigraphy using dipyridamole thallium is accepted for risk assessment prior to vascular surgery, it is unknown whether the location of the thallium abnormalities provides prognostic information. Methods: Records from 435 consecutive patients scheduled for vascular surgery were reviewed and patients with dipyridamole thallium abnormalities involving the anterior distribution (ANTERIOR n = 62), or inferior or inferolateral distribution (INFERIOR n = 105) were assessed for cardiac complications of surgery (death, myocardial infarction, unstable angina or ischemic congestive heart failure). Results: Patients with a normal dipyridamole thallium scintigraphy had few surgical cardiac complications: 2/86 (2%). Patients with an ANTERIOR dipyridamole thallium defect had a 12% incidence of surgical cardiac complications (7/57) without any cardiac deaths, while patients with an INFERIOR dipyridamole thallium defect had a similar incidence of surgical cardiac complications, 18% (18/100; p = 0.65 vs. ANTERIOR) including 4 cardiac deaths. Conclusions: Significant inferior or inferolateral dipyridamole thallium scintigraphy abnormalities are not associated with a lower risk of cardiac complications following vascular surgery than anterior abnormalities. Rather, any clearly abnormal dipyridamole thallium study is a marker for increased risk of perioperative events and may warrant further evaluation and treatment.

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