Beaumont research: CT heart scans accurate, faster, less costly for chest pain diagnosis

2/18/2007

Beaumont Hospital cardiologists and emergency physicians have demonstrated that coronary CT angiography is accurate, definitive, much faster and less costly than the standard diagnostic testing for emergency room chest pain patients.

This revolutionary research, published in the Feb. 27 Journal of the American College of Cardiology, is the first randomized scientific study comparing CT angiography with the standard testing approach to chest pain diagnosis. It was funded in part by philanthropists J. Peter and Florine Ministrelli and conducted at Beaumont's Ministrelli Center for Advanced Cardiac Imaging.

"Our research showed coronary CT angiography can detect if arteries are normal or diagnose mild, moderate or severe blockages with a high degree of accuracy exceeding 95 percent without invasive cardiac catheterization," says James Goldstein, M.D., lead author and Beaumont's director of cardiology research and medical education.

Eight million patients annually seek emergency treatment for chest pain in the U.S. While most patients with obvious heart attacks can be diagnosed easily and quickly by EKGs, others require more extensive testing. Studies have shown that up to 8 percent of patients having a heart attack are misdiagnosed or are sent home inappropriately. Others go home without a definitive diagnosis.

In the Beaumont study, coronary CT angiography was not only accurate, it reduced time to diagnosis for chest pain patients by 75 percent (from 15 hours to 3-1/2 hours). Furthermore, costs of testing were reduced by 15 percent. Patients went home more quickly with a definitive diagnosis and unnecessary hospital admissions were avoided.

"These results are so compelling that Beaumont has already launched a program to use CT angiography to aid in the diagnosis of chest pain of unknown cause at its Royal Oak Emergency Center," says Dr. Goldstein.

With standard testing, patients have a series of electrocardiograms and cardiac enzyme testing over 8 to 12 hours followed by a rest and/or stress imaging study. This approach is time consuming and resource intensive with an estimated cost of $10-$12 billion annually in the U.S.

Beaumont is a world leader in research, evaluation and treatment of chest pain and heart attack. In the 1980s, Beaumont researchers performed the first randomized study that established angioplasty as a primary heart attack treatment, leading to a new standard of care.


The research showed coronary CT angiography can detect if arteries are normal or diagnose mild, moderate or severe blockages with a high degree of accuracy without invasive cardiac catheterization.

Beaumont, Royal Oak is Michigan's, and one of the nation's, most experienced providers of heart care, ranking 12th on the U.S. News & World Report list of top hospitals for heart care and heart surgery. The Beaumont Heart Center is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the prevention diagnosis and treatment of heart problems. It includes the Ministrelli Women's Heart Center, Michigan's first center devoted exclusively to the prevention, diagnosis and research of heart disease in women.