Coronary CT angiography in emergency department patients with acute chest pain: triple rule-out protocol versus dedicated coronary CT angiography

Hwa Yeon Lee, Seung Min Yoo, Charles S White
International Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging 2009, 25 (3): 319-26
Immediate coronary catheterization is mandatory for high risk patients with typical chest pain in the emergency department (ED). In contrast, in ED patients with acute chest pain but low to intermediate risk, traditional management protocol includes serial ECG, cardiac troponins and radionuclide perfusion imaging. However, this protocol is time-consuming and expensive, and definite treatment of unstable angina is often delayed. Due to advances of multi-detector CT (MDCT) technology, dedicated coronary CT angiography provides the potential to rapidly and reliably diagnose or exclude acute coronary syndrome in ED patients with acute chest pain. Moreover, major life-threatening causes of ED chest pain (i.e., acute aortic syndrome and pulmonary embolism as well as acute coronary syndrome) can simultaneously be assessed by the so-called "triple rule-out" protocol with a single scan. In ED patients with atypical chest pain and low to intermediate risk, the triple rule-out protocol may be preferred, especially in older patients who have relatively lower risk of lifelong radiation-induced cancer. However, the increased radiation dose resulting from the extended volume coverage with this protocol should be fully considered prior to performing this protocol. Therefore, in ED patients who have a low clinical suspicion of pulmonary embolism and acute aortic syndrome, especially younger patients, dedicated coronary CT angiography accompanied by modifications to reduce radiation dose is recommended.


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