Study examines use of X-ray imaging method on patients with chest pain

April 18, 2012

The use of a noninvasive, X-ray imaging method has been shown to be a safe and effective way to evaluate for discharge patients who present to the emergency department with chest pain, according to a recent research study.

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center was part of the multicenter research trial studying the use of coronary CT angiography (CCTA) in low-to-intermediate risk patients. CCTA uses X-rays to create detailed pictures of the heart and its blood vessels and can be used to assess the left ventricle -- the main pumping chamber of the heart. The medical center was the second largest participant in the study sponsored by American College of Radiology Imaging Network.

Often patients are admitted to the hospital with heart attack symptoms, however many are often discharged because the symptoms were not from cardiac causes. Compared with patients receiving traditional care, patients in the CCTA group had a higher discharge rate from the emergency department, a shorter length of stay and a similar rate of detection of coronary disease. Typical traditional methods involved patients receiving imaging studies and spending additional time in the emergency department, for observation by the medical staff.

Results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, with Harjit Singh, Department of Radiology, Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute, and James M. Leaming, Department of Emergency Medicine, included as authors.

The full results are at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1201163 online.

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Last Updated April 19, 2012