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A cardiac computed tomography first strategy to evaluate chest pain in a rural setting

outcomes and cost implications

Chrysant, George S.a,,b; Fillmore, Stevenb; McClain, Richardb

doi: 10.1097/MCA.0000000000000757
CT Angiography for CAD

Introduction Chest pain continues to be a major burden on the healthcare system with more than eight million patients being evaluated in the emergency department (ED) setting annually at a cost of greater than 10 billion dollars. Missed chest pain diagnoses for ischemia are the leading cause of malpractice lawsuits for ED physicians. The use of cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA) to assess acute chest pain was adopted at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center to attempt to accurately diagnose low to intermediate risk chest pain and potentially reduce the cost of chest pain evaluation to the system while still transferring appropriate high-risk patients.

Patients and methods Patients presenting to the ED with low to moderate risk chest pain were evaluated with at least two negative troponin levels, an ECG, and in most instances overnight observation followed by CCTA in the morning if eligible. High-risk patients were transported to a tertiary care facility with cardiac catheterization capabilities. Medical records were checked to determine if any adverse events had occurred during follow-up. Adverse events were defined as myocardial infarction, death, and/or revascularization. Mean follow-up was 28 months.

Results Of the 368 patients studied, 29 patients were transferred due to findings of at least moderate obstructive disease. Of those 29 patients transferred, 11 patients underwent revascularization (10 underwent percutaneous coronary intervention and one underwent coronary artery bypass grafting). The average coronary artery calcium score for patients transferred was 96.1. The average coronary artery calcium score for patients undergoing revascularization was 174.6. Six patients had normal coronary arteries on catheterization. The remaining 12 patients had the moderate obstructive disease by catheterization that was not physiologically significant by either invasive fractional flow reserve or in two instances, negative stress perfusion testing. At 24 months, two patients had undergone revascularization and one patient had died suddenly.

Conclusion The cost savings associated with a CCTA first strategy to evaluate chest pain were ~$1 200 244.10. For a self-insured health system such as the Chickasaw Nation, these are very important cost savings.

aDepartment of Cardiology, INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center/INTEGRIS Cardiovascular Physicians, Oklahoma City

bChickasaw Nation Medical Center, Ada, Oklahoma, USA

Received 8 October 2018 Revised 28 March 2019 Accepted 4 April 2019

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Correspondence to George S. Chrysant, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FSCCT, Advanced Cardiac Imaging, INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center/INTEGRIS Heart Hospital, 3433 NW 56th Street, Building B, Suite 660, Oklahoma City, OK 73112, USA, Tel: + 1 405 948 4040; fax: + 1 405 917 3542; e-mail:

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