Case Report

Determining Functional Significance of Subclavian Artery Stenosis Using Exercise Thallium-201 Stress Imaging

Authors: Sanjeev Wasson, MD, Ashwani Bedi, MD, Amolak Singh, MD, FACNM


Subclavian artery stenosis (SAS) is a rare lesion accounting for nearly 2.5% of all extracranial arterial occlusions. Symptoms from SAS usually relate to subclavian steal, and include syncope, vertigo, ataxia, and, rarely, upper limb paralysis or hemipareses. Upper extremity ischemia may result in intermittent or constant arm pain. The majority of patients with SAS are asymptomatic. Upper extremity ischemia is particularly unusual. More commonly, patients with significant SAS have symptoms of cerebral ischemia, which are usually triggered by vigorous motion of the arm on the side of the severe proximal subclavian obstruction.1 Stress exercise radionuclide imaging appears to be a valuable modality in determining the functional significance of SAS. We describe a case in which radionuclide imaging with thallium-201 after stress of the upper extremities was used for risk stratification of subclavian stenosis, and to help decide treatment options.

This content is limited to qualifying members.

Existing members, please login first.

If you have an existing account please login now to access this article or view your purchase options.

Purchase only this article ($15)

Create a free account, then purchase this article to download or access it online for 24 hours.

Purchase an SMJ online subscription ($75)

Create a free account, then purchase a subscription to get complete access to all articles for a full year.

Purchase a membership plan (fees vary)

Premium members can access all articles plus recieve many more benefits. View all membership plans and benefit packages.


1. Walker PM, Paley D, Harris KA, et al. What determines the symptoms associated with subclavian artery occlusive disease? J Vasc Surg 1985;2:154–157.
2. Ackermann H, Diener HC, Dichgans J. Stenosis and occlusion of the subclavian artery: ultrasonographic and clinical findings. J Neurol 1987;234:396–400.
3. Samoil D, Schwartz JL. Coronary subclavian steal syndrome. Am Heart J 1993;126:1463–1466.