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Report finds that new-generation computed tomography (NGCCT) may be sufficiently accurate to diagnose clinically significant coronary artery disease (CAD) in some, or all, difficult-to-image patient groups and may be particularly useful in ruling out patients from further invasive investigations. Economic analyses suggest that NGCCT is likely to be considered cost-effective for difficult-to-image patients with CAD, at current levels of willingness to pay in the NHS. For patients with suspected CAD, the NGCCT-only strategy may be most favourable; for patients with known CAD, NGCCT along with invasive coronary angiography may be most favourable.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Computed tomography (CT) is important in diagnosing and managing many conditions, including coronary artery disease (CAD) and congenital heart disease. Current CT scanners can very accurately diagnose CAD requiring revascularisation in most patients. However, imaging technologies have developed rapidly and new-generation computed tomography (NGCCT) scanners may benefit patients who are difficult to image (e.g. obese patients, patients with high or irregular heart beats and patients who have high levels of coronary calcium or a previous stent or bypass graft).

OBJECTIVE

To assess the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of NGCCT for diagnosing clinically significant CAD in patients who are difficult to image using 64-slice computed tomography and treatment planning in complex congenital heart disease.

DATA SOURCES

Bibliographic databases were searched from 2000 to February/March 2011, including MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), NHS Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), Health Technology Assessment (HTA) database and Science Citation Index (SCI). Trial registers and conference proceedings were searched.

REVIEW METHODS

Systematic review methods followed published guidance. Risk of bias was assessed using QUADAS-2. Results were stratified by patient group. Summary sensitivity and specificity were calculated using a bivariate summary receiver operating characteristic, or random effects model. Heterogeneity was assessed using the chi-squared statistic and I(2)-statistic. Cost-effectiveness of NGCCT was modelled separately for suspected and known CAD, evaluating invasive coronary angiography (ICA) only, ICA after positive NGCCT (NGCCT-ICA), and NGCCT only. The cost-effectiveness of NGCCT, compared with 64-slice CT, in reducing imaging-associated radiation in congenital heart disease was assessed.

RESULTS

Twenty-four studies reported accuracy of NGCCT for diagnosing CAD in difficult-to-image patients. No clinical effectiveness studies of NGCCT in congenital heart disease were identified. The pooled per-patient estimates of sensitivity were 97.7% [95% confidence interval (CI) 88.0% to 99.9%], 97.7% (95% CI 93.2% to 99.3%) and 96.0% (95% CI 88.8% to 99.2%) for patients with arrhythmias, high heart rates and previous stent, respectively. The corresponding estimates of specificity were 81.7% (95% CI 71.6% to 89.4%), 86.3% (95% CI 80.2% to 90.7%) and 81.6% (95% CI 74.7% to 87.3%), respectively. In patients with high coronary calcium scores, previous bypass grafts or obesity, only per-segment or per-artery data were available. Sensitivity estimates remained high (> 90% in all but one study). In patients with suspected CAD, the NGCCT-only strategy appeared most cost-effective; the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of NGCCT-ICA compared with NGCCT only was £71,000. In patients with known CAD, the most cost-effective strategy was NGCCT-ICA (highest cost saving, dominates ICA only). The ICER of NGCCT only compared with NGCCT-ICA was £726,230. For radiation exposure only, the ICER for NGCCT compared with 64-slice CT in congenital heart disease ranged from £521,000 for the youngest patients to £90,000 for adults.

LIMITATIONS

Available data were limited, particularly for obese patients and patients with previous bypass grafts. All studies of the accuracy of NGCCT assume that the reference standard (ICA) is 100% sensitive and specific; however, there is some evidence that ICA may sometimes underestimate the extent and severity of stenosis. Patients with more than one criterion that could contribute to difficulty in imaging were often excluded from studies; the effect on test accuracy of multiple difficult to image criteria remains uncertain.

CONCLUSIONS

NGCCT may be sufficiently accurate to diagnose clinically significant CAD in some or all difficult-to-image patient groups. Economic analyses suggest that NGCCT is likely to be considered cost-effective for difficult-to-image patients with CAD, at current levels of willingness to pay in the NHS. For patients with suspected CAD, NGCCT only would be most favourable; for patients with known CAD, NGCCT-ICA would be most favourable. No studies assessing the effects of NGCCT on therapeutic decision making, or subsequent patient outcomes, were identified. The ideal study to address these questions would be a large multi-centre RCT. However, one possible alternative might be to establish a multicentre tracker study. High-quality test accuracy studies, particularly in obese patients, patients with high coronary calcium, and those with previous bypass grafts are needed to confirm the findings of our systematic review. These studies should include patients with multiple difficult to image criteria.

FUNDING

The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme. This project was funded by the HTA programme, on behalf of NICE, as project number 10/107/01.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Computed tomography (CT) is important in diagnosing and managing many conditions, including coronary artery disease (CAD) and congenital heart disease. Current CT scanners can very accurately diagnose CAD requiring revascularisation in most patients. However, imaging technologies have developed rapidly and new-generation computed tomography (NGCCT) scanners may benefit patients who are difficult to image (e.g. obese patients, patients with high or irregular heart beats and patients who have high levels of coronary calcium or a previous stent or bypass graft).

OBJECTIVE

To assess the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of NGCCT for diagnosing clinically significant CAD in patients who are difficult to image using 64-slice computed tomography and treatment planning in complex congenital heart disease.

DATA SOURCES

Bibliographic databases were searched from 2000 to February/March 2011, including MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), NHS Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), Health Technology Assessment (HTA) database and Science Citation Index (SCI). Trial registers and conference proceedings were searched.

REVIEW METHODS

Systematic review methods followed published guidance. Risk of bias was assessed using QUADAS-2. Results were stratified by patient group. Summary sensitivity and specificity were calculated using a bivariate summary receiver operating characteristic, or random effects model. Heterogeneity was assessed using the chi-squared statistic and I(2)-statistic. Cost-effectiveness of NGCCT was modelled separately for suspected and known CAD, evaluating invasive coronary angiography (ICA) only, ICA after positive NGCCT (NGCCT-ICA), and NGCCT only. The cost-effectiveness of NGCCT, compared with 64-slice CT, in reducing imaging-associated radiation in congenital heart disease was assessed.

RESULTS

Twenty-four studies reported accuracy of NGCCT for diagnosing CAD in difficult-to-image patients. No clinical effectiveness studies of NGCCT in congenital heart disease were identified. The pooled per-patient estimates of sensitivity were 97.7% [95% confidence interval (CI) 88.0% to 99.9%], 97.7% (95% CI 93.2% to 99.3%) and 96.0% (95% CI 88.8% to 99.2%) for patients with arrhythmias, high heart rates and previous stent, respectively. The corresponding estimates of specificity were 81.7% (95% CI 71.6% to 89.4%), 86.3% (95% CI 80.2% to 90.7%) and 81.6% (95% CI 74.7% to 87.3%), respectively. In patients with high coronary calcium scores, previous bypass grafts or obesity, only per-segment or per-artery data were available. Sensitivity estimates remained high (> 90% in all but one study). In patients with suspected CAD, the NGCCT-only strategy appeared most cost-effective; the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of NGCCT-ICA compared with NGCCT only was £71,000. In patients with known CAD, the most cost-effective strategy was NGCCT-ICA (highest cost saving, dominates ICA only). The ICER of NGCCT only compared with NGCCT-ICA was £726,230. For radiation exposure only, the ICER for NGCCT compared with 64-slice CT in congenital heart disease ranged from £521,000 for the youngest patients to £90,000 for adults.

LIMITATIONS

Available data were limited, particularly for obese patients and patients with previous bypass grafts. All studies of the accuracy of NGCCT assume that the reference standard (ICA) is 100% sensitive and specific; however, there is some evidence that ICA may sometimes underestimate the extent and severity of stenosis. Patients with more than one criterion that could contribute to difficulty in imaging were often excluded from studies; the effect on test accuracy of multiple difficult to image criteria remains uncertain.

CONCLUSIONS

NGCCT may be sufficiently accurate to diagnose clinically significant CAD in some or all difficult-to-image patient groups. Economic analyses suggest that NGCCT is likely to be considered cost-effective for difficult-to-image patients with CAD, at current levels of willingness to pay in the NHS. For patients with suspected CAD, NGCCT only would be most favourable; for patients with known CAD, NGCCT-ICA would be most favourable. No studies assessing the effects of NGCCT on therapeutic decision making, or subsequent patient outcomes, were identified. The ideal study to address these questions would be a large multi-centre RCT. However, one possible alternative might be to establish a multicentre tracker study. High-quality test accuracy studies, particularly in obese patients, patients with high coronary calcium, and those with previous bypass grafts are needed to confirm the findings of our systematic review. These studies should include patients with multiple difficult to image criteria.

FUNDING

The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme. This project was funded by the HTA programme, on behalf of NICE, as project number 10/107/01.

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