Study Points to Effectiveness of CT Scans in Diagnosing Heart Attacks

A multi-center diagnostic trial comparing computed tomography heart imaging with nuclear cardiology stress testing has found that the CT scan is faster, more efficient, and more accurate than the stress test when diagnosing chest pain complaints in the emergency room for low-risk patients.
The research is published in the Sept. 26 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
According to Beaumont Hospital’s press release, “In the Beaumont study, lead investigators Gilbert Raff, M.D, director, Ministrelli Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging, and James Goldstein, M.D., director, cardiology research and education, looked at the accuracy and speed of cardiac CT versus nuclear stress testing for low-risk chest pain evaluation.
“At a time when economic resources are constrained, while health care demand is increasing, it is important to compare the effectiveness of diagnostic methods not only for safety and accuracy, but for efficiency and cost,” says Dr. Goldstein, professor of medicine with the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. “Consumers and insurers want high-value care that’s high quality at an affordable cost.”
The study, called CT-STAT (Coronary Computed Tomographic Angiography for Systematic Triage of Acute Chest Pain) found that use of CT imaging for low-risk chest pain diagnosis was more rapid and less costly than rest-stress testing.
“CT angiography was 54 percent faster in diagnosis and 38 percent less expensive in terms of overall cost of emergency care with no difference in adverse cardiac events,” says Dr. Raff. “The median cost of CT imaging was $2,137 versus $3,458 for stress testing.”
The study, conducted June 2007 – November 2008, involved 749 patients at 11 university and five community-based hospital emergency rooms in eight states. It was supported by a grant from Bayer HealthCare, Berlin, Germany.