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Samantha Schmidt

For Release: April 23, 2009

Cardiac CT Offers a Better, Cost Effective Approach to Diagnose Low-Risk Chest Pain Patients in the ER

Using cardiac CT to diagnose low risk patients with chest pain is significantly cheaper—44% less than the standard of care—and can decrease the length of hospital stay up to 20 hours, according to a study performed at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.

Fifty three low-risk chest pain patients were compared by using results from a cardiac CT based workup and a traditional standard of care workup using nuclear stress testing. “Nothing was cut from the standard of care workup,” said Janet May, MS, lead author of the study. William Shuman, MD, worked with Janet on this study.

“The current emergency department standard of care workup for low risk chest pain patients often involves serial cardiac enzymes, serial ECGs and a nuclear cardiac stress test. Such a workup can take up to 30 hours and is expensive. The mean cost for the SOC workup in this study was $7,597,” said Janet. “With new lower dose cardiac CT options available that lower the patient radiation dose, patients get a faster evaluation and are discharged much sooner with a cardiac CT; in less than six hours,” she said.

“Once you know the case is a low risk patient with chest pain, the sooner the cardiac CT is done, the better. “Speed results in cost savings without compromising accuracy,” said Janet.

“Emergency rooms across the nation are struggling with congestion and escalating cost issues. Over six million patients present to US emergency rooms each year with chest pain and the majority of these are low risk. Dealing with these patients faster and with greater cost effectiveness is a big step toward ameliorating congestion and spiraling cost,” she said.

This study will be presented at the 2009 ARRS Annual Meeting in Boston, MA, on Monday, April 27. For a copy of the full study, please contact Heather Curry via email at

About ARRS

The American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) was founded in 1900 and is the oldest radiology society in the United States. Its monthly journal, the American Journal of Roentgenology, began publication in 1906. Radiologists from all over the world attend the ARRS annual meeting to participate in instructional courses, scientific paper presentations and scientific and commercial exhibits related to the field of radiology. The Society is named after the first Nobel Laureate in Physics, Wilhelm Röentgen, who discovered the x-ray in 1895. ###


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