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Coronary artery disease: diagnostic and prognostic models for reducing patient risk

D Douglas Miller, Leslee J Shaw
Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 2006, 21 (6 Suppl 1): S2-16; quiz S17-9
17293746
Early and accurate diagnostic testing is a critical factor in the detection and optimal management of coronary artery disease (CAD); thus, noninvasive cardiac imaging has become a central tool for CAD evaluation. Currently, tests used for evaluating CAD include conventional resting and stress electrocardiogram, echocardiography, and myocardial perfusion imaging--the most widely used imaging test for evaluation of suspected myocardial ischemia. Emerging techniques for noninvasive assessment of myocardial perfusion and coronary angiography include cardiac computed tomography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography. The distinctive pathophysiology of atherosclerosis can be used together with imaging techniques to diagnose and assess risk for CAD. Imaging modalities for cardiac risk stratification include a diverse array of tools, such as noninvasive tests that visualize presymptomatic atherosclerosis to sophisticated radionuclide protocols that identify myocardial viability. Of the noninvasive imaging tests, gated SPECT is the most accurate method for risk stratification of CAD. Myocardial perfusion imaging with SPECT has improved accuracy and image quality such that a shift from diagnostic to prognostic use has occurred. Radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging has played an important role in CAD evaluation since the introduction of thallium-201 (Tl-201) in the 1970s. Although Tl-201 has high sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility, it also has physical properties that limit its use and affect image quality. Currently, Tc-99m tetrofosmin and sestamibi are the most commonly used agents for a variety of resting and stress protocols, both have similar diagnostic accuracy profiles. The field of nuclear cardiology has grown steadily over the past few decades, as more practitioners recognize its clinical applications and value in managing cardiovascular disease. There is abroad spectrum of noninvasive and invasive testing available for the diagnosis and management of patients with cardiovascular disease. Advances in computer technology have made sophisticated devices, such as the gated SPECT, a routine part of cardiology.

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