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Intern Med J. 2007 Oct;37(10):699-704. Epub 2007 Jun 2.

How compliant are we with guidelines for coronary angiography in clinical practice?

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Department of Cardiology, Liverpool Hospital, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have published guidelines for coronary angiography. We evaluated the compliance rate with these guidelines in clinical practice, its correlation to results of angiography and aimed to identify problem areas of non-compliance.


We prospectively evaluated 802 consecutive referrals for coronary angiography over 5 months in 2002 in a tertiary referral hospital. These referrals were assessed by two independent reviewers blinded to the results of angiography.


Patient age was 62 +/- 11 years (522 men, 433 inpatients, 369 day-only patients). Referrals were outside published guidelines in 34.3 and 36.2% as evaluated by the two reviewers (concordance rate 88.2%, kappa = 0.74, p < 0.001). Intraobserver agreement was 97.5%. The rate of angiography showing either normal arteries or only minor diseases (<50%) was higher for referrals outside guidelines (68.4 vs 22.6%, P < 0.001). Compliance rate was high with indications of non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (99.2%) and ST-elevation myocardial infarction (95.8%), valvular disease (80%) and arrhythmia (80%). Compliance rate was lower with assessment of dyspnoea or heart failure (74.3%) and before non-cardiac surgery (72.7%) and was particularly low with assessment of chest pain (53.2%). Younger age (odds ratio (OR) 1.04, P < 0.001), female sex (OR 2.67, P < 0.001), day-only procedure (OR 2.27, P < 0.001) and non-invasive cardiologist referrer (OR 1.41, P = 0.046) were independent predictors of non-compliance.


Referrals for coronary angiography were outside guidelines in a significant proportion of patients. Rate of negative angiography was higher when the referrals were outside guidelines. Problematic areas of non-compliance could be identified. Measures specifically targeting these areas may be more effective in improving the overall guideline compliance in clinical practice.

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