An economic analysis of an aggressive diagnostic strategy with single photon emission computed tomography myocardial perfusion imaging and early exercise stress testing in emergency department patients who present with chest pain but nondiagnostic electrocardiograms: results from a randomized trial.
STUDY OBJECTIVE: Conventional emergency department testing strategies for patients with chest pain often do not provide unequivocal diagnosis of acute coronary syndromes. This study was conducted to determine whether the routine use of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging at rest and early exercise stress testing to assess intermediate-risk patients with chest pain and no ECG evidence of acute ischemia will lead to earlier discharges, more discriminate use of coronary angiography, and an overall reduction in average costs of care with no adverse clinical outcomes. METHODS: All patients in this study had technetium 99m tetrofosmin SPECT imaging at rest and were randomly assigned to either a conventional (results of the imaging test blinded to the physician) or perfusion imaging-guided (results of the imaging test unblinded to the physician) strategy. Patients in the conventional arm were treated at their physician's discretion. Patients in the perfusion imaging-guided arm were treated according to a predefined protocol based on SPECT imaging test results: coronary angiography after a positive scan result and exercise treadmill testing after a negative scan result. Study endpoints consisted of total in-hospital costs and length of stay. Hospital costs were calculated using hospital department-specific Medicare cost/charge ratios. Length of stay was calculated as total hospital room days billed (regular and intensive care). RESULTS: We enrolled 46 patients, 9 with acute myocardial infarctions. Patients randomly assigned to the perfusion imaging-guided arm had $1,843 (95% confidence interval [CI] $431 to $6,171) lower median in-hospital costs and 2.0-day (95% CI 1.0 to 3.0 days) shorter median lengths of stay but similar rates of in-hospital and 30-day follow up events as patients in the conventional arm. CONCLUSION: An ED chest pain diagnostic strategy incorporating acute resting (99m)Tc tetrofosmin SPECT imaging and early exercise stress testing may lead to reduced in-hospital costs and decreased length of stay for patients with acute chest pain and nondiagnostic ECGs.
Stowers, SA; Eisenstein, EL; Th Wackers, FJ; Berman, DS; Blackshear, JL; Jones, AD; Szymanski, TJ; Lam, LC; Simons, TA; Natale, D; Paige, KA; Wagner, GS
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