Natriuretic peptide testing in EDs for managing acute dyspnea: a meta-analysis

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The aim of the study was to assess the usefulness of systematic natriuretic peptide testing in the management of patients presenting with acute dyspnea to emergency departments (EDs).


We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing the usefulness of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) or its N-terminal fragment (NT-proBNP) in the management of patients presenting with dyspnea into ED. We searched Medline, Embase, and conference proceedings without restriction on neither language nor publication year. Selection of studies, data collection, and assessment of risk of bias were performed by 2 reviewers independently and in duplicate. Outcomes included hospital admission rate, time to discharge, and length of hospital stay, mortality and rehospitalization rates, and total direct medical costs. Combined risk ratios were estimated using fixed or random effects model. Duration and cost data were not combined.


Four randomized controlled trials, representing 2041 patients, were selected. In 4 trials, there was a tendency for hospital admission to be reduced in the intervention group (combined risk ratio, 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.89-1.01). Time to discharge was significantly reduced in 2 trials, whereas there was no significant reduction in hospital length of stay in 3 trials. There was no significant effect on in-hospital and 30-day mortality rates or rehospitalization rates (3 trials reporting each outcome). Two trials found significant reduction in direct costs.


The current evidence remains inconclusive on whether systematic natriuretic peptide testing is useful for the management of patients presenting to ED with acute dyspnea.

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