There has been a gradual decline in the prevalence of abnormal stress single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) myocardial perfusion imaging studies among patients without history of coronary artery disease (CAD). The trends of SPECT studies among patients with known CAD have not been evaluated previously.Methods and Results—
We assessed the Mayo Clinic nuclear cardiology database for all stress SPECT tests performed between January 1991 and December 2012 in patients with history of CAD defined as having previous myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention, and coronary artery bypass grafting. The study cohort was divided into 5 time periods: 1991 to 1995, 1996 to 2000, 2001 to 2005, 2006 to 2010, and 2011 to 2012. There were 19 373 patients with a history of CAD who underwent SPECT between 1991 and 2012 (mean age, 66.2±10.9 years; 75.4% men). Annual utilization of SPECT in these patients increased from an average of 495 tests per year in 1991 to 1995 to 1425 in 2003 and then decreased to 552 tests in 2012 without evidence for substitution with other stress modalities. Asymptomatic patients initially increased until 2006 and then decreased. Patients with typical angina decreased, whereas patients with dyspnea and atypical angina increased. High-risk SPECT tests significantly decreased, and the percentage of low-risk SPECT tests increased despite decreased SPECT utilization between 2003 and 2012. Almost 80% of all tests performed in 2012 had a low-risk summed stress score compared with 29% in 1991 (P<0.001).Conclusions—
In Mayo Clinic, Rochester, annual SPECT utilization in patients with previous CAD increased between 1992 and 2003, but then decreased after 2003. High-risk SPECT tests declined, whereas low-risk tests increased markedly. Our results suggest that among patients with a history of CAD, SPECT was being increasingly utilized in patients with milder CAD. This trend parallels reduced utilization of other stress modalities, coronary angiography, reduced smoking, and greater utilization of optimal medical therapy for prevention and treatment of CAD.