Sensitive Troponin I and Stress Testing in the Emergency Department for the Early Management of Chest Pain Using 2-Hour Protocol

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Abstract

Background:

Despite improvements in identifying high-risk patients with non-ST segment ACS (acute coronary syndrome), low risk patients presenting with atypical chest pain and non-diagnostic Electrocardiogram (ECG) continued to undergo unnecessary admissions and testing. Since 1992, our chest pain protocol included using 4-hour serial biomarkers from ED admission in combination with stress testing to evaluate these patients. Our study aimed at determining whether a new accelerated diagnostic protocol using sensitive cardiac troponin I (cTnI) 2 hours after admission to the ED followed by stress testing is safe and effective in emergency settings, allowing for appropriate triage, earlier discharge and reducing costs.

Methods:

We conducted a single center randomized trial at Presence St. Francis Hospital Chest pain center in Evanston, Illinois enrolling sixty-four consecutive patients with atypical chest pain and non-diagnostic ECG, participants were randomized to accelerated 2 hrs protocol or our pre-existing 4-hrs protocol. Sixty patients completed the protocol and were randomized to either a 2-hour (29 patients) or 4-hour protocol using both I-STAT and PATHFAST cTnI (31 Patients). Troponin I was evaluated at 0 and at 2 hours from ED presentation with and additional draw for patients in the 4-hour rule out-group. Patients with normal serial biomarkers were then evaluated with stress testing and qualified for earlier discharge if the stress test was negative, while those with a positive biomarker at any time were admitted. Thirty-six patients had exercise treadmill stress test and 24 patients had either nuclear or Echo stress test.

Results:

Fifty-three patients had a normal stress test and were discharged home. One patient in the 4-hour group with normal serial troponins developed ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation during the recovery period of a regular stress test. Six patients had a positive PATHFAST cTnI and a normal I-STAT cTnI at 2-hours. Two out of these six patients evaluated by coronary angiography. One patient had severe tortuous coronaries but no significant obstructive lesion and one had a severe CAD who needed Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Three of the six patients had a normal stress test and one patient decided to leave without further testing. None of the patients with a normal stress test had a major cardiac event or adverse cardiac outcome at six-month follow up.

Conclusion:

This study demonstrates that the 2 hours accelerated protocol using high sensitivity Troponin assay at 0 and 2 hours with comprehensive clinical evaluation and ECG followed by stress testing might be successful in identifying low-risk patient population who may benefit from early discharge from ED reducing associated costs and length of stay.

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