BACKGROUND: Early diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) can ensure quick and effective treatment but only 20% of adults with emergency admissions for chest pain have an AMI. High-sensitivity cardiac troponin (hs-cTn) assays may allow rapid rule-out of AMI and avoidance of unnecessary hospital admissions and anxiety.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of hs-cTn assays for the early (within 4 hours of presentation) rule-out of AMI in adults with acute chest pain.
METHODS: Sixteen databases, including MEDLINE and EMBASE, research registers and conference proceedings, were searched to October 2013. Study quality was assessed using QUADAS-2. The bivariate model was used to estimate summary sensitivity and specificity for meta-analyses involving four or more studies, otherwise random-effects logistic regression was used. The health-economic analysis considered the long-term costs and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) associated with different troponin (Tn) testing methods. The de novo model consisted of a decision tree and Markov model. A lifetime time horizon (60 years) was used.
RESULTS: Eighteen studies were included in the clinical effectiveness review. The optimum strategy, based on the Roche assay, used a limit of blank (LoB) threshold in a presentation sample to rule out AMI [negative likelihood ratio (LR-) 0.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05 to 0.18]. Patients testing positive could then have a further test at 2 hours; a result above the 99th centile on either sample and a delta (Δ) of ≥ 20% has some potential for ruling in an AMI [positive likelihood ratio (LR+) 8.42, 95% CI 6.11 to 11.60], whereas a result below the 99th centile on both samples and a Δ of < 20% can be used to rule out an AMI (LR- 0.04, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.10). The optimum strategy, based on the Abbott assay, used a limit of detection (LoD) threshold in a presentation sample to rule out AMI (LR- 0.01, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.08). Patients testing positive could then have a further test at 3 hours; a result above the 99th centile on this sample has some potential for ruling in an AMI (LR+ 10.16, 95% CI 8.38 to 12.31), whereas a result below the 99th centile can be used to rule out an AMI (LR- 0.02, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.05). In the base-case analysis, standard Tn testing was both most effective and most costly. Strategies considered cost-effective depending upon incremental cost-effectiveness ratio thresholds were Abbott 99th centile (thresholds of < £6597), Beckman 99th centile (thresholds between £6597 and £30,042), Abbott optimal strategy (LoD threshold at presentation, followed by 99th centile threshold at 3 hours) (thresholds between £30,042 and £103,194) and the standard Tn test (thresholds over £103,194). The Roche 99th centile and the Roche optimal strategy [LoB threshold at presentation followed by 99th centile threshold and/or Δ20% (compared with presentation test) at 1-3 hours] were extendedly dominated in this analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: There is some evidence to suggest that hs-CTn testing may provide an effective and cost-effective approach to early rule-out of AMI. Further research is needed to clarify optimal diagnostic thresholds and testing strategies.
STUDY REGISTRATION: This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42013005939.
FUNDING: The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme.