Methods of measurement of myocardial blood flow in patients: A critical review

M. L. Marcus, R. F. Wilson, C. W. White

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


During the past decade, major progress has been made in the evolution of technology directed toward the accurate measurement of regional myocardial perfusion in patients. The deficiencies of some of the older methods (thermodilution and gas clearance) are better appreciated and improved approaches (Doppler catheters, positron-emission tomography, and digital subtraction angiography) have been developed. The new approaches should play a major role in research and for most applications the older methods will gradually be replaced. Efforts to bring these new methods to community hospitals and practicing cardiologists should be stimulated. Doppler catheters, positron-emission tomography, and digital-subtraction angiography are commercially available and Doppler catheters and digital-subtraction angiography could be easily incorporated into routine cardiac catheterization procedures. The Doppler catheter is the most inexpensive and probably the simplest to apply. In our opinion, routine measurements of coronary flow reserve will significantly improve the care of patients with coronary obstructive disease and other diseases that impair myocardial perfusion. If coronary reserve measurements are used frequently, patient selection for coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery will no longer depend entirely on visual assessment of percent diameter stenosis, a very poor criterion in many situations. Also, patients with chest pain syndromes, normal coronary vessels, and impaired coronary reserve will be identified and perhaps some effective treatment for this condition will be devised. On the horizon, a new generation of techniques (magnetic resonance imaging, ultrafast computed tomography, and contrast echocardiography) may permit precise measurement of perfusion in different layers of the left ventricular myocardium without cardiac catheterization. As the precision of all these new techniques improves and as they become more widely available, additional knowledge concerning the regulation of the coronary circulation in humans will be acquired. In time, this will translate to a significant improvement in the care of patients with diseases affecting myocardial perfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987


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