The evaluation of patients presenting to the emergency department with suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS) remains a clinical challenge. The traditional assessment includes clinical risk assessment based on cardiovascular risk factors with serial electrocardiograms and cardiac troponin measurements, often followed by advanced cardiac testing as inpatient or outpatient (i.e. stress testing, imaging). Despite this costly and lengthy work-up, there is a non-negligible rate of missed ACS with an increased risk of death. There is a clinical need for diagnostic strategies that will lead to rapid and reliable triage of patients with suspected ACS. We provide an overview of the evidence for the role of highly sensitive troponin (hsTn) in the rapid and efficient evaluation of suspected ACS. Results of recent research studies have led to the introduction of hsTn with rapid rule-in and rule-out protocols into the guidelines. Highly sensitive troponin increases the sensitivity for the detection of myocardial infarction and decreases time to diagnosis; however, it may decrease the specificity, especially when used as a dichotomous variable, rather than continuous variable as recommended by guidelines; this may increase clinician uncertainty. We summarize the evidence for the use of coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) as the rapid diagnostic tool in this population when used with conventional troponin assays. Coronary CTA significantly decreases time to diagnosis and discharge in patients with suspected ACS, while being safe. However, it may lead to increase in invasive procedures and includes radiation exposure. Finally, we outline the opportunities for the combined use of hsTn and coronary CTA that may result in increased efficiency, decreased need for imaging, lower cost, and decreased radiation dose.
- Acute chest pain
- Acute coronary syndrome
- Coronary computed tomography angiography
- Highly sensitive troponin
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine