CT scans diagnose patients with chest pain sooner

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 31, 2012

Use of a coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) in the emergency room can help physicians rule out heart attacks and release patients from the emergency department (ED) faster, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital randomly assigned 1,000 patients at nine major hospital centers to receive either conventional care or CCTA. Conventional treatment for patients reporting to the ED with chest pains involves an electrocardiogram and blood tests to check for elevated levels of troponin, with patients frequently admitted for observation and stress tests, whereas CCTA uses imaging technology to look for blockages to blood flow around the heart.

Fifty percent of the patients in the group receiving CCTA were released from the hospital in less than nine hours, compared to only 10% of patients in the control group. For those who received CCTA, the average length of stay was approximately 23 hours, versus more than 30 hours for those who underwent conventional screening. The CCTA group paid an average of $200 more for services. According to the researchers, there was no significant difference in coronary events between the two groups.

Source: Los Angeles Times