New use of 64-slice CT scan to be studied at HUP to help diagnose coronary artery disease in the ED

tient comes into the ED complaining of chest pain, an EKG is performed, blood tests are done, the pain is treated and then the patient is admitted to the hospital for further testing to make sure they are not having a heart attack," explains Harold Litt, MD, PhD, Chief of Cardiovascular Imaging in Radiology at HUP. "But now, after assessing the likelihood that it's actually coronary artery disease causing the chest pain -- based on family history and other factors -- low-risk patients can have this CT scan quickly, and within two to three hours of arriving in the ED, we can tell whether or not the patient has coronary disease and needs to stay in the hospital or if he can be sent home. The test itself takes only about five minutes, and can also show us many causes of chest pain not related to the heart."

"In the end, we hope to find patients that we can send home right away because nearly 85 percent don't have ischemic coronary artery disease," said Judd Hollander, MD, the emergency medicine physician leading the study at HUP. "This is useful to Emergency Department physicians to find the 15 percent who actually do."

William Baxt, MD, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Penn, adds, "This utilization of multi-slice CT in the ED may help us catch the patients who we might have initially thought were safe to go home, but they're not. They need further treatment and observation for heart disease."

Dr. Baxt further explains, "On the other side, this potentially could save society vast amounts of money by foregoing unnecessary admission into hospitals for further testing. Also, more beds as well as emergency medicine personnel would be available to treat the really ill patients who need care."


Contact: Susanne Hartman
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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