Changes in myocardial perfusion and left ventricular function were evaluated pre- and postoperatively (3-6 months) in 14 patients with unstable angina who underwent coronary artery bypass surgery. Perfusion was studied with intracoronary and intragraft injections of radiolabeled macroaggregated albumin particles. Of 20 abnormal perfusion areas identified preoperatively, 13 demonstrated improved perfusion postoperatively. Segmental analysis of the left ventriculogram demonstrated improved wall motion in 29 abnormally contracting segments; 18 normalized. Areas which showed improvement of left ventricular perfusion were invariably associated with improvement of left ventricular wall motion. Five patients showed improvement in perfusion and contraction in areas of apparent old myocardial infarction.
Thirteen of the 14 patients had significantly less angina whether or not there was evidence of improved perfusion. However, only those patients who demonstrated improved perfusion had a significant improvement in their treadmill exercise tolerance postoperatively. Thus, patients with unstable angina have perfusion defects which may be reversed as a result of saphenous vein graft surgery. Reversal of these perfusion abnormalities results in improved left ventricular performance and better exercise tolerance postoperatively.