BACKGROUND: Acute coronary syndrome is a common medical emergency. The optimal strategy to investigate patients who are at intermediate risk of acute coronary syndrome has not been fully determined.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the role of early computed tomography coronary angiography in the investigation and treatment of adults presenting with suspected acute coronary syndrome.
DESIGN: A prospective, multicentre, open, parallel-group randomised controlled trial with blinded end-point adjudication.
SETTING: Thirty-seven hospitals in the UK.
PARTICIPANTS: Adults (aged ≥ 18 years) presenting to the emergency department, acute medicine services or cardiology department with suspected or provisionally diagnosed acute coronary syndrome and at least one of the following: (1) a prior history of coronary artery disease, (2) a cardiac troponin level > 99th centile and (3) an abnormal 12-lead electrocardiogram.
INTERVENTIONS: Early computed tomography coronary angiography in addition to standard care was compared with standard care alone. Participants were followed up for 1 year.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: One-year all-cause death or subsequent type 1 (spontaneous) or type 4b (stent thrombosis) myocardial infarction, measured as the time to such event adjudicated by two cardiologists blinded to the computerised tomography coronary angiography ( CTCA ) arm. Cost-effectiveness was estimated as the lifetime incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year gained.
RESULTS: Between 23 March 2015 and 27 June 2019, 1748 participants [mean age 62 years (standard deviation 13 years), 64% male, mean Global Registry Of Acute Coronary Events score 115 (standard deviation 35)] were randomised to receive early computed tomography coronary angiography (n = 877) or standard care alone (n = 871). The primary end point occurred in 51 (5.8%) participants randomised to receive computed tomography coronary angiography and 53 (6.1%) participants randomised to receive standard care (adjusted hazard ratio 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.62 to 1.35; p = 0.65). Computed tomography coronary angiography was associated with a reduced use of invasive coronary angiography (adjusted hazard ratio 0.81, 95% confidence interval 0.72 to 0.92; p = 0.001) but no change in coronary revascularisation (adjusted hazard ratio 1.03, 95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.21; p = 0.76), acute coronary syndrome therapies (adjusted odds ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval 0.85 to 1.32; p = 0.63) or preventative therapies on discharge (adjusted odds ratio 1.07, 95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.32; p = 0.52). Early computed tomography coronary angiography was associated with longer hospitalisations (median increase 0.21 days, 95% confidence interval 0.05 to 0.40 days) and higher mean total health-care costs over 1 year (£561 more per patient) than standard care.
LIMITATIONS: The principal limitation of the trial was the slower than anticipated recruitment, leading to a revised sample size, and the requirement to compromise and accept a larger relative effect size estimate for the trial intervention.
FUTURE WORK: The potential role of computed tomography coronary angiography in selected patients with a low probability of obstructive coronary artery disease (intermediate or mildly elevated level of troponin) or who have limited access to invasive cardiac catheterisation facilities needs further prospective evaluation.
CONCLUSIONS: In patients with suspected or provisionally diagnosed acute coronary syndrome, computed tomography coronary angiography did not alter overall coronary therapeutic interventions or 1-year clinical outcomes, but it did increase the length of hospital stay and health-care costs. These findings do not support the routine use of early computed tomography coronary angiography in intermediate-risk patients with acute chest pain.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: This trial is registered as ISRCTN19102565 and Clinical Trials NCT02284191.
FUNDING: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 26, No. 37. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.