Detecting acute coronary syndrome in the emergency department with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging

Raymond Y Kwong, Adam E Schussheim, Suresh Rekhraj, Anthony H Aletras, Nancy Geller, Janice Davis, Timothy F Christian, Robert S Balaban, Andrew E Arai
Circulation 2003 February 4, 107 (4): 531-7

BACKGROUND: Managing chest pain in the emergency department remains a challenge with current diagnostic strategies. We hypothesized that cardiac MRI could accurately identify patients with possible or probable acute coronary syndrome.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The diagnostic performance of MRI was evaluated in a prospective study of 161 consecutive patients. Enrollment required 30 minutes of chest pain compatible with myocardial ischemia but an ECG not diagnostic of acute myocardial infarction. MRI was performed at rest within 12 hours of presentation and included perfusion, left ventricular function, and gadolinium-enhanced myocardial infarction detection. MRI was interpreted qualitatively but also analyzed quantitatively. The sensitivity and specificity, respectively, for detecting acute coronary syndrome were 84% and 85% by MRI, 80% and 61% by an abnormal ECG, 16% and 95% for strict ECG criteria for ischemia (ST depression or T-wave inversion), 40% and 97% for peak troponin-I, and 48% and 85% for a TIMI risk score > or =3. The MRI was more sensitive than strict ECG criteria for ischemia (P<0.001), peak troponin-I (P<0.001), and the TIMI risk score (P=0.004), and MRI was more specific than an abnormal ECG (P<0.001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed MRI was the strongest predictor of acute coronary syndrome and added diagnostic value over clinical parameters (P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Resting cardiac MRI exhibited diagnostic operating characteristics suitable for triage of patients with chest pain in the emergency department. Performed urgently to evaluate chest pain, MRI accurately detected a high fraction of patients with acute coronary syndrome, including patients with enzyme-negative unstable angina.

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