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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2018 Apr;210(4):816-820. doi: 10.2214/AJR.17.18740. Epub 2018 Feb 15.

Coronary CT Angiography: Use in Patients With Chest Pain Presenting to Emergency Departments.

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1 Department of Radiology, Center for Research on Utilization of Imaging Services (CRUISE), Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, 132 S 10th St, Main 1090, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
2 HealthHelp, Inc., Houston, TX.



Previously published reports have shown that coronary CT angiography (CCTA) is a more efficient method of diagnosis than myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) and stress echocardiography for patients presenting to emergency departments (EDs) with acute chest pain. In light of this evidence, the objective of this study was to examine recent trends in the use of these techniques in EDs.


The nationwide Medicare Part B databases for 2006-2015 were the data source. The Current Procedural Terminology, version 4, codes for CCTA, MPI, and stress echocardiography were selected. Medicare place-of-service codes were used to determine procedure volumes in EDs. Medicare specialty codes were used to ascertain how many of these examinations were interpreted by radiologists, cardiologists, and other physicians as a group.


From 2006 to 2015, there was essentially no change in the number of MPI examinations performed in EDs for patients using Medicare (22,342 in 2006, 22,338 in 2015) or in the number of stress echocardiograms (3544 in 2006, 3520 in 2015). By contrast, the number of CCTA examinations increased rapidly, from 126 in 2006 to 1919 in 2015 (compound annual growth rate, 35%). Despite this rapid growth, patients in EDs underwent 11.6 times as many MPI as CCTA examinations in 2015. In that last year of the study, radiologists interpreted 78% of ED MPI and 83% of ED CCTA examinations.


Use of CCTA in EDs has increased rapidly, but far more MPI examinations are still being performed. This finding suggests that recently acquired evidence is not yet being fully acted upon.


cardiac imaging; chest pain; coronary CT angiography; imaging utilization; socioeconomic issues

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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