Quick ER MDCT valuable in categorizing chest pain

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According to a new study, multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) is able to help emergency room doctors determine whether patients reporting chest pains actually have heart problems or if the chest pains are from other causes, MSN/Reuters reports. For the study, 103 patients reporting chest pain were routinely evaluated but also underwent a MDCT which takes only 15 minutes. In that time physicians can determine whether there is plaque build up in a patient’s coronary arteries.

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) “is rare without plaque, so MDCT results may quickly identify a group of patients that can safely be discharged,” said Udo Hoffmann, lead author of the study and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, Reuters reports. “It would be a big relief for patients to be quickly told that they don’t have anything wrong with their hearts and they can go home,” Hoffman added. Of the patients involved in the study, 14 were diagnosed with ASC and did show plaque which the MDCT located, another 43 patients were found to not have substantial levels of plaque shown in the scan, and the remaining 73 did not have ACS, Reuters reports. The status of each patient was monitored for five months following the original exam. The study was originally published by Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and performed by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School.

The AHA recently changed its position regarding the use of CT imaging (by electron beam or multidetector devices) for patients believed to be in intermediate risk. AHA believes that EBCT can be useful to determine a course of treatment for patients at the intermediate risk level. The change comes about as technology has advanced and more studies show the validity of the scans as useful tools in making treatment choices.

More on the MGH study: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15486271