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Int J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2010 Mar;26(3):359-66. doi: 10.1007/s10554-009-9547-x. Epub 2009 Dec 5.

Reduction in downstream test utilization following introduction of coronary computed tomography in a cardiology practice.

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Cardiovascular Research Foundation of Southern California, Beverly Hills, CA, USA.


To compare utilization of non-invasive ischemic testing, invasive coronary angiography (ICA), and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures before and after introduction of 64-slice multi-detector row coronary computed tomographic angiography (CCTA) in a large urban primary and consultative cardiology practice. We utilized a review of electronic medical records (NotesMD) and the electronic practice management system (Megawest) encompassing a 4-year period from 2004 to 2007 to determine the number of exercise treadmill (TME), supine bicycle exercise echocardiography (SBE), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) myocardial perfusion stress imaging (MPI), coronary calcium score (CCS), CCTA, ICA, and PCI procedures performed annually. Test utilization in the 2 years prior to and 2 years following availability of CCTA were compared. Over the 4-year period reviewed, the annual utilization of ICA decreased 45% (2,083 procedures in 2004 vs. 1,150 procedures in 2007, P < 0.01) and the percentage of ICA cases requiring PCI increased (19% in 2004 vs. 28% in 2007, P < 0.001). SPECT MPI decreased 19% (3,223 in 2004 vs. 2,614 in 2007 P < 0.02) and exercise stress treadmill testing decreased 49% (471 in 2004 vs. 241 in 2007 P < 0.02). Over the same period, there were no significant changes in measures of practice volume (office and hospital) or the annual incidence of PCI (405 cases in 2004 vs. 326 cases in 2007) but a higher percentage of patients with significant disease undergoing PCI 19% in 2004 vs. 29% in 2007 P < 0.01. Implementation of CCTA resulted in a significant decrease in ICA and a corresponding significant increase in the percentage of ICA cases requiring PCI, indicating that CCTA resulted in more accurate referral for ICA. The reduction in unnecessary ICA is associated with avoidance of potential morbidity and mortality associated with invasive diagnostic testing, reduction of downstream SPECT MPI and TME as well as substantial savings in health care dollars.

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