How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the referral patterns for SPECT myocardial perfusion? A single center experience

Document Type : Original Article


1 Nuclear Medicine Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of medical informatics, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Objective(s): We evaluated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the number of referrals for SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging (SPECT-MPI) as well as changes in the clinical and imaging characteristics.
Methods: We respectively reviewed 1042 SPECT-MPI cases performed in a 4-month period during the COVID-19 pandemic (PAN; n=423) and compared their findings with those acquired in the same months before the pandemic (PRE; n=619).
Results: The number of stress SPECT-MPI studies performed during the PAN period significantly dropped compared to the number of studies carried out in the PRE period (p = 0.014). In the PRE period, the rates of patients presenting with non-anginal, atypical and typical chest pain were 31%, 25% and 19%, respectively. The figures significantly changed in the PAN period to 19%, 42%, and 11%, respectively (all p-values <0.001). Regarding the pretest probability of coronary artery disease (CAD), a significant decrease and increase were noticed in patients with high and intermediate pretest probability, respectively (PRE: 18% and 55%, PAN: 6% and 65%, p <0.001 and 0.008, respectively). Neither the rates of myocardial ischemia nor infarction differed significantly in the PRE vs. PAN study periods.
Conclusion: The number of referrals dropped significantly in the PAN era. While the proportion of patients with intermediate risk for CAD being referred for SPECT-MPI increased, those with high pretest probability were less frequently referred. Image parameters were mostly comparable between the study groups in the PRE and PAN periods.


Main Subjects

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