Reduced myocardial blood flow reserve in kidney transplant candidates may hamper risk stratification



Vasodilator nuclear stress testing is frequently ordered for risk stratification prior to kidney transplantation. Since 82Rb-positron emission tomography-computed tomography can measure myocardial blood flow (MBF), the response to vasodilator stress can be verified rendering the results of the scan more reliable.


We reviewed the MBF response to dipyridamole infusion in 328 patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) prior to transplant (188 hemodialysis-HD, 120 peritoneal dialysis-PD, and 20 pre-dialysis patients-CKD5) and in 100 controls with normal kidney function. A stress/rest MBF ratio ≥ 2 was considered an adequate response to dipyridamole. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) was measured on CT.


Inadequate MBF response was seen in 36%-HD, 21%-PD, 45%-CKD5 vs. 23%-controls (p = 0.006). Univariable predictors of poor MBF response in ESKD patients were age, diabetes mellitus, and CAC (all p < 0.03) while serum hemoglobin was borderline significant (p = 0.052). Multivariable predictors of a poor MBF response were age (p = 0.002) and lower serum hemoglobin (p = 0.014). Ischemia was identified in 8% of ESKD patients and 24% of controls (p < 0.001).


ESKD patients are less likely to respond appropriately to vasodilator stress compared to patients with normal renal function and had a lower incidence of ischemia despite a high pre-test probability of disease. Physicians performing vasodilator stress without MBF measurement should be aware of the high probability of a false negative response.

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Correspondence to Paolo Raggi.

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Malak, M., Christie, E., Wen, K. et al. Reduced myocardial blood flow reserve in kidney transplant candidates may hamper risk stratification. J Nephrol 34, 197–209 (2021).

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  • Kidney transplantation
  • Risk stratification
  • Hemodialysis
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Myocardial blood flow