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Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2010; 10(9): 1–61.
Published online 2010 June 1.
PMCID: PMC3377563

Stress Echocardiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease

An Evidence-Based Analysis
Health Quality Ontario

Executive Summary

In July 2009, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding different cardiac imaging modalities to ensure that appropriate technologies are accessed by patients suspected of having CAD. This project came about when the Health Services Branch at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care asked MAS to provide an evidentiary platform on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of non-invasive cardiac imaging modalities.

After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, MAS identified five key non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies for the diagnosis of CAD. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these five imaging modalities: cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, single photon emission computed tomography, 64-slice computed tomographic angiography, stress echocardiography, and stress echocardiography with contrast. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed (where appropriate). A summary decision analytic model was then developed to encapsulate the data from each of these reports (available on the OHTAC and MAS website).

The Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: www.health.gov.on.ca/mas"> www.health.gov.on.ca/mas or at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html

  1. Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  2. Stress Echocardiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  3. Stress Echocardiography with Contrast for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  4. 64-Slice Computed Tomographic Angiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  5. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis

Pease note that two related evidence-based analyses of non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies for the assessment of myocardial viability are also available on the MAS website:

  1. Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: an Evidence-Based Analysis

The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative has also produced an associated economic report entitled:

The Relative Cost-effectiveness of Five Non-invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease in Ontario [Internet]. Available from: http://theta.utoronto.ca/reports/?id=7

Objective

The objective of the analysis is to determine the diagnostic accuracy of stress echocardiography (ECHO) in the diagnosis of patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to coronary angiography (CA).

Stress Echocardiography

Stress ECHO is a non-invasive technology that images the heart using ultrasound. It is one of the most commonly employed imaging techniques for investigating a variety of cardiac abnormalities in both community and hospital settings. A complete ECHO exam includes M-mode, 2-dimensional (2-D) images and Doppler imaging.

In order to diagnosis CAD and assess whether myocardial ischemia is present, images obtained at rest are compared to those obtained during or immediately after stress. The most commonly used agents used to induce stress are exercise and pharmacological agents such as dobutamine and dipyridamole. The hallmark of stress-induced myocardial ischemia is worsening of wall motion abnormalities or the development of new wall motion abnormalities. A major challenge for stress ECHO is that the interpretation of wall motion contractility and function is subjective. This leads to inter-observer variability and reduced reproducibility. Further, it is estimated that approximately 30% of patients have sub-optimal stress ECHO exams. To overcome this limitation, contrast agents for LV opacification have been developed.

Although stress ECHO is a relatively easy to use technology that poses only a low risk of adverse events compared to other imaging technologies, it may potentially be overused and/or misused in CAD diagnosis. Several recent advances have been made focusing on quantitative methods for assessment, improved image quality and enhanced portability, however, evidence on the effectiveness and clinical utility of these enhancements is limited.

Evidence-Based Analysis

Research Questions

  1. What is the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO for the diagnosis of patients with suspected CAD compared to the reference standard of CA?
  2. What is the clinical utility1 of stress ECHO?

Literature Search

A literature search was performed on August 28, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2004 until August 21, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any relevant studies not identified through the search.

Inclusion Criteria
  • Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, retrospective analyses
  • Minimum sample size of 20 enrolled patients
  • Comparison to CA (reference standard)
  • Definition of CAD specified as either ≥50%, ≥70% or ≥75% coronary artery stenosis on CA
  • Reporting accuracy data on individual patients (rather than accuracy data stratified by segments of the heart)
  • English
  • Human

Exclusion Criteria
  • Duplicate studies
  • Non-systematic reviews, case reports
  • Grey literature (e.g., conference abstracts)
  • Insufficient data for independent calculation of sensitivity and specificity
  • Use of ECHO for purposes other than diagnosis of CAD (e.g., arrhythmia, valvular disease, mitral stenosis, pre-operative risk of MI)
  • Transesophageal ECHO since its primary use is for non-CAD indications such as endocarditis, intracardiac thrombi, valvular disorders
  • Only resting ECHO performed

Outcomes of Interest
  • Accuracy outcomes (sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value)
  • Costs

Summary of Findings

Given the vast amount of published literature on stress ECHO, it was decided to focus on the studies contained in the comprehensive 2007 review by Heijenbrok-Kal et al. (1) as a basis for the MAS evidence-based analysis. In applying our inclusion and exclusion criteria, 105 observational studies containing information on 13,035 patients were included. Six studies examined stress ECHO with adenosine, 26 with dipyridamole and 77 with dobutamine, the latter being the most commonly used pharmacological stress ECHO agent in Ontario. A further 18 studies employed exercise as the stressor.2 The prevalence of CAD ranged from 19% to 94% with a mean estimated prevalence of 70%. Based on the results of these studies the following conclusions were made:

  • Based on the available evidence, stress ECHO is a useful imaging modality for the diagnosis of CAD in patients with suspected disease. The overall pooled sensitivity is 0.80 (95% CI: 0.77 – 0.82) and the pooled specificity is 0.84 (95% CI: 0.82 – 0.87) using CA as the reference standard. The AUC derived from the sROC curve is 0.895 and the DOR is 20.64.
  • For pharmacological stress, the pooled sensitivity is 0.79 (95% CI: 0.71 – 0.87) and the pooled specificity is 0.85 (95% CI: 0.83 – 0.88). When exercise is employed as the stress agent, the pooled sensitivity is 0.81 (95% CI: 0.76– 0.86) and the pooled specificity is 0.79 (95% CI: 0.71 – 0.87). Although pharmacological stress and exercise stress would be indicated for different patient populations based on ability to exercise there were no significant differences in sensitivity and specificity.
  • Based on clinical experts, diagnostic accuracy on stress ECHO depends on the patient population, the expertise of the interpreter and the quality of the image.

Background

In July 2009, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding different cardiac imaging modalities to ensure that appropriate technologies are accessed by patients suspected of having CAD. This project came about when the Health Services Branch at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care asked MAS to provide an evidentiary platform on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of non-invasive cardiac imaging modalities.

After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, MAS identified five key non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies for the diagnosis of CAD. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these five imaging modalities: cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, single photon emission computed tomography, 64-slice computed tomographic angiography, stress echocardiography, and stress echocardiography with contrast. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed (where appropriate). A summary decision analytic model was then developed to encapsulate the data from each of these reports (available on the OHTAC and MAS website).

The Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: www.health.gov.on.ca/mas or at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html

  1. Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  2. Stress Echocardiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  3. Stress Echocardiography with Contrast for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  4. 64-Slice Computed Tomographic Angiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  5. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis

Pease note that two related evidence-based analyses of non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies for the assessment of myocardial viability are also available on the MAS website:

  1. Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
  2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: an Evidence-Based Analysis

The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative has also produced an associated economic report entitled:

The Relative Cost-effectiveness of Five Non-invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease in Ontario [Internet]. Available from: http://theta.utoronto.ca/reports/?id=7

Objective of Analysis

The objective of the analysis is to determine the diagnostic accuracy of stress echocardiography (stress ECHO) in the diagnosis of patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD).

Stress Echocardiography

Stress ECHO is a non-invasive technology that images the heart using ultrasound. It’s one of the most commonly employed imaging techniques for investigating a variety of cardiac abnormalities and its clinical utility extends beyond simple diagnosis. The technology can be used to assess prognosis and risk stratification in patients with established CAD, to perform preoperative risk assessment, to evaluate patients after revascularization, and to evaluate the severity of heart valve stenosis. (2;3)

Due to its portability and relative affordability, stress ECHO is widely used both in community and hospital settings. Results from an ECHO exam are available in real-time and can thus immediately impact further diagnostic work-up, dictate therapeutic decisions, determine response to therapy and predict patient outcome. In most clinical settings, the sonographer performs the ECHO exam and the physician interprets the images. The entire outpatient exam takes approximately one hour. (4)

The technology relies on the differential absorption and reflection of sound waves by body tissues of differing properties. A complete stress ECHO exam includes M-mode, 2-dimensional (2-D) images and Doppler imaging with a stress agent. (3) The M-mode measures left ventricle (LV) cavity size and wall thickness, 2-D imaging quantifies cardiac chamber sizes, wall thickness, ventricular function, valvular anatomy and great vessel size, while Doppler imaging measures blood flow velocities, intracardiac pressures and hemodynamics.

In order to diagnose CAD and assess whether myocardial ischemia is present, images obtained at rest are compared to those obtained during or immediately after stress. The normal cardiac response to stress is an increase in heart rate and myocardial contractility. A normal stress ECHO result is thus defined as normal LV wall motion at rest and with stress. The hallmark of stress-induced myocardial ischemia is a worsening of wall motion abnormalities or the development of new wall motion abnormalities (see Table 1). The interpretation of wall motion contractility and function, however, is subjective, which creates the possibility of inter-reader and inter-institutional variability. For regional wall motion analysis (WMA), there are 16 segments that are evaluated on the basis of their contractility (score of 1-5). This information then goes into calculating a wall motion score index (WMSI). The larger the infarct, the higher the WMSI since wall motion abnormalities become more severe. The WMSI also increases if there is viable myocardium that does not receive sufficient blood flow when under stress (2;3)

Table 1:
Interpretation of ECHO Images Obtained at Rest and During Stress

Standardized protocols exist for performing stress ECHO. The most commonly used stressors are exercise, dobutamine and dipyridamole. Exercise ECHO can be performed either using a treadmill or bicycle protocol, whereby images are obtained during the various levels of exercise or immediately following exercise. Interpretation is based on a comparison of images at rest and at peak exercise. A major challenge of exercise stress ECHO is that images need to be obtained rapidly after exercise. Although exercise is the most widely used stress protocol, patients may be unable to exercise, may exercise submaximally, or their results may be uninterpretable. (3) In these patients, a pharmacological agent is used to induce stress. Dobutamine, a vasoconstrictor, is the most commonly employed pharmacological agent in North America, while dipyridamole, a vasodilator, is more commonly used in Europe. (3) Adenosine is another vasodilator but is used much less frequently. These agents induce ischemia through different hemodynamic mechanisms. Dobutamine primarily increases myocardial oxygen demand and dypyridamole and adenosine mainly decrease subendocardial flow supply.

Stress ECHO reports include a baseline and stress assessment of wall motion and systolic function in addition to the stress protocol that was employed, the exercise time or dose of pharmacological agent used, the maximum heart rate achieved, whether the level of stress was adequate, the blood pressure response, the reason for test termination if the results are incomplete, any cardiac symptoms during the test, and electrocardiographic (ECG) changes or significant arrhythmias. (2)

Clear endocardial definition is vital for optimal image interpretation, yet it is estimated that approximately 30% of patients have sub-optimal stress ECHO exams. (5;6) Opacification of the LV cavity and endocardial border detection can be difficult in obese patients and those with lung disease. To overcome this barrier, contrast agents for LV opacification have been developed to enhance endocardial border detection. (5;6) The Medical Advisory Secretariat has undertaken an evidence-based analysis of myocardial contrast ECHO (MCE) and, based on the evidence found, the addition of contrast imaging in patients with suboptimal ECHO results significantly improved interpretability of the results.

The diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO exams may also be impacted by gender with men and women exhibiting different CAD patterns and responses to cardiac testing. Women are also more likely to have non-obstructive or single-vessel disease when compared to men, which decreases the diagnostic accuracy. (7-9)

There are no known contraindications for stress ECHO. In terms of safety, it does not involve any ionising radiation, which is an important consideration for repeat testing, and serious side effects are uncommon at less than one in 1000 stress ECHO exams. (10) The most common cardiovascular side effects of those that do occur are angina, hypotension and cardiac arrhythmias. (2)

The combination of its relative ease of use and low risk of adverse events have made stress ECHO a popular method of CAD diagnosis; however, there is also the potential for ECHO to be overused or misused. Some patients may not benefit from a stress ECHO test or would have achieved a similar benefit without the addition of the test. Inappropriate use could be costly and may also prompt potentially harmful subsequent testing or treatment such as unnecessary coronary revascularization. (11)

For the future, it is envisioned by experts in the field that there will be more quantitative methods for assessment, improved image quality and enhanced portability. Several recent advancements in stress ECHO have been developed to overcome some of the challenges with the qualitative interpretation of results and image quality. Real-time 3D ECHO has been introduced to enhance endocardial border definition. Initial studies have been encouraging, but the additional value of this technique over traditional WMA remains unknown. (3) Tissue Doppler imaging is another advancement that enables a quantitative and reproducible assessment of myocardial velocity and deformation. Based on the available evidence and expert feedback, this quantitative approach is not yet ready for widespread use. (3) Lastly, hand-carried cardiac ultrasound devices have been developed to diagnose CAD in emergency rooms and at bedsides, but again, evidence on the diagnostic accuracy and clinical utility of these devices is limited. (12)

Alternative Technologies

Stress ECHO is not the only imaging modality that can be used to diagnose CAD. Alternatives to stress ECHO for the diagnosis of CAD currently licensed for use in Canada include single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (c-MRI) and computed tomography (CT) angiography. All of these technologies are non-invasive and used to make decisions on which patients should go on to CA, which is the only modality that provides a definitive diagnosis based on anatomical information and the degree of coronary artery stenosis, although its invasive nature increases the risk of adverse events. (13)

Regulatory Status

ECHO units are licensed by Health Canada as class III devices. There are currently 8 ECHO systems licensed for sale in Canada, as summarized in Table 2.

Table 2:
Echocardiography systems licensed by Health Canada

Evidence-Based Analysis

Research Questions

  1. What is the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO in the diagnosis of patients with suspected CAD compared to the reference standard of CA?
  2. What is the clinical utility3 of stress ECHO?

Methods

Literature Search

A literature search was performed on August 28, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2004 until August 21, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established.

Inclusion Criteria
  • Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, retrospective analyses
  • Minimum sample size of 20 enrolled patients
  • Comparison to CA (reference standard)
  • Definition of CAD specified as either ≥50%, ≥70% or ≥75% coronary artery stenosis on CA
  • Reporting accuracy data on individual patients (rather than stratified by segments of the heart)
  • English and human studies only

Exclusion Criteria
  • Non-systematic reviews, case reports
  • Grey literature (e.g., conference abstracts)
  • Insufficient data for independent calculation of sensitivity and specificity
  • Use of ECHO for purposes other than diagnosis of CAD (e.g., arrhythmia or valvular disease)
  • Trans-esophageal ECHO since its primary use is for non-CAD indications such as endocarditis, intracardiac thrombi, valvular disorders
  • Only resting ECHO performed

Outcomes of Interest
  • Accuracy outcomes (sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value)
  • Costs

Statistical Analysis

Pooled estimates of sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic odds ratios (DORs) were calculated using a bivariate, binomial generalized linear mixed model. (14) Statistical significance was defined by P values of less than 0.05, where “false discovery rate” adjustments were made for multiple hypothesis testing. (15) The bivariate regression analyses were performed using SAS version 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc.; Cary, NC, USA). Summary receiver operating characteristic (sROC) curves weighted by inverse variance were produced using Review Manager 5.0.22 (The Nordiac Cochrane Centre, The Cochrane Collaboration, 2008). All other statistics were calculated using STATA version 10.1 (StataCorp; Texas, USA). The area under the sROC curve was estimated by numerical integration with a cubic spline (default option).

Quality of Evidence

The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria (16) as presented below.

  • Quality refers to the criteria such as the adequacy of allocation concealment, blinding and follow-up.
  • Consistency refers to the similarity of estimates of effect across studies. If there are important and unexplained inconsistencies in the results, our confidence in the estimate of effect for that outcome decreases. Differences in the direction of effect, the magnitude of the difference in effect, and the significance of the differences guide the decision about whether important inconsistency exists.
  • Directness refers to the extent to which the interventions and outcome measures are similar to those of interest.

As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:

HighFurther research is very unlikely to change confidence in the estimate of effect.
ModerateFurther research is likely to have an important impact on confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.
LowFurther research is very likely to have an important impact on confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.
Very LowAny estimate of effect is very uncertain

Results of Evidence-Based Analysis

The search identified 866 articles published from January 1, 2004 to August 21, 2009. Among these was a high quality systematic review by Heijenbrok-Kal et al. (1), which compared the diagnostic performance of stress ECHO, SPECT and electron beam CT for CAD using CA as the reference standard. The authors performed a meta-analysis on 351 patient-series which were reported in 11 meta-analyses.

Given the vast amount of published literature on stress ECHO, it was decided to use the studies contained in the comprehensive review by Heijenbrok-Kal et al. (1) as a basis for the MAS evidence-based analysis. Out of the 11 meta-analyses contained in this review, there were 7 systematic reviews containing information on 226 studies on Stress ECHO compared to CA for the diagnosis of CAD (see Table 3).

Table 3:
Characteristics of meta-analyses included in Heijenbrok-Kal et al., 2007 systematic review*

To further refine the analysis, additional inclusion criteria were applied to the 226 studies included in Heijenbrok-Kal et al. (1) systematic review. For feasibility, studies were included if they were published after 1995 and if the sample size was greater than or equal to 20 patients. Applying these additional criteria yielded a total of 105 observational studies containing information on 13, 035 patients, which were used for the MAS evidence-based analysis (see Table 4). In these studies, stress ECHO results were compared to those obtained with CA results in the same patient, thus patients acted as their own controls. Data was abstracted from the original systematic reviews. When information was missing or incomplete, an attempt was made to extract data from the original studies.

Table 4:
Quality of evidence of included studies on stress ECHO

The studies were published between 1995 and 2001, the majority of patients were male (67.6%, n=89 studies) and the mean age of patients was 59 years (n=88 studies). Data on women and the elderly was more limited. The prevalence of CAD ranged from 19% to 94%, with a mean value of 70%. In studies that examined pharmacological stress the mean CAD prevalence was slightly higher than in trials involving exercise stress (71.0% versus 66.5%). Appendix 2 further outlines characteristics of the studies included in the analysis.

Of the 105 studies included in the MAS analysis, the majority of studies examined the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO with pharmacological agents. A study was counted twice if data was reported on different stress agents. Six studies used adenosine, 26 used dipyridamole and 77 used dobtamine, which is the most commonly used pharmacological stress ECHO agent in Ontario. A further 18 studies employed exercise (dynamic and/or static) as the stressor.

Sensitivity and specificity varied across the different studies and different stress agents. For adenosine, the sensitivity ranged from 0.66 to 0.88 and the specificity ranged from 0.10 to 1.00 (Figure 1). For dipyradamole, the sensitivity ranged from 0.42 to 1.00 and the specificity ranged from 0.14 to 1.00 (Figure 2). For dobutamine, the sensitivity ranged from 0.40 to 1.00 and the specificity ranged from 0.49 to 1.00 (Figure 3). Lastly, for exercise the sensitivity ranged from 0.54 to 0.94 and the specificity ranged from 0.41 to 0.96 (Figure 4).

Figure 1:
Estimates of sensitivity and specificity derived from studies comparing adenosine stress ECHO to CA for the diagnosis of CAD
Figure 2:
Estimates of sensitivity and specificity derived from studies comparing dipyridamole stress ECHO to CA for the diagnosis of CAD
Figure 3:
Estimates of sensitivity and specificity derived from studies comparing dobutamine stress ECHO to CA for the Diagnosis of CAD
Figure 4:
Estimates of sensitivity and specificity derived from studies comparing exercise stress ECHO to CA diagnosis of CAD

Pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity were calculated using a bivariate, binomial generalized linear mixed model. (Table 5) When all stress agents were combined, the pooled sensitivity was 0.80 and the pooled specificity was 0.84. There were no significant differences in the estimates of pooled sensitivity and specificity across the different pharmacological stress agents (Table 6). In comparison to pharmacological stress agents, exercise stress had a higher estimate of pooled sensitivity, yet a lower estimated pooled specificity. Nevertheless, the observed differences in sensitivity and specificity between exercise and pharmacological stress were not significant (sensitivity P=0.62, specificity P=0.36). While these differences were not significant, it is important to note that different patient populations would be referred for pharmacological or exercise stress ECHO tests based on ability to exercise.

Table 5:
Estimates of pooled sensitivity, pooled specificity and DORs derived from studies comparing stress ECHO to CA for the Diagnosis of CAD
Table 6:
Comparisons of pooled sensitivity and pooled specificity

The diagnostic odds ratio (DOR), which is the odds of a positive test in patients with disease compared with the odds of a positive test results in those without the disease, was also calculated. The DOR for all stress sources combined was found to be 20.64, while for pharmacological stress it was 21.71 and for exercise stress it was 16.11.

Summary Receiver Operator Curves (SROC) were generated (Figure 5) and the AUC was calculated. When all stress agents were combined, the AUC for stress ECHO was 0.895 (Table 7). In ranking the AUC of the different stress agents, dobutamine had the highest AUC, followed closely by dipyridamole, adenosine and exercise (Figure 5).

Table 7:
AUC for stress ECHO
Figure 5:
SROC curve for stress ECHO for the Diagnosis of CAD

Given that it was not possible to statistically compare the AUCs for the different stress agents, a subgroup analysis of the DORs was performed. Comparisons of the different pharmacological stressors and between the pharmacological stressors and exercise revealed that there were no significant differences in the pooled DORs between the different stress agents (Table 8).

Table 8:
Subgroup analyses of stress agents using DORs for Stress ECHO

The definition of what qualified as significant CAD, as measured by the degree of coronary artery stenosis, varied across the studies. The majority of the studies used a threshold of 50% stenosis (n=77), but some studies defined significant disease as 70% stenosis (n=18), and one study used a threshold of 75% stenosis. This information was unknown or not reported for 38 studies. According to Jones et al., it may be possible to include studies with differing thresholds in the same meta-analysis. (25) This is due to the fact that even when the reported thresholds are constant between studies, the true thresholds will differ owing to individual reporting styles and variance in image interpretation. A subgroup analysis was performed to ensure that the diagnostic accuracy did not differ by the definition of CAD. Studies that defined significant CAD as greater than 50% coronary artery stenosis (DOR 21.07, 95%CI: 15.21 – 26.94) did not significantly differ in diagnostic accuracy compared to studies that defined significant CAD as greater than 70% stenosis (DOR 19.50, 95%CI: 8.56 – 30.44; P=0.87).

Of the 92 studies that contained information on patient MI history, 66 included patients with a previous MI. The proportion of patients with a previous MI ranged from 8% to 100% (mean= 33.8%). Even though the analysis was intended to focus on patients suspected of CAD and therefore not have a history of previous MI, it was still possible to include these studies in the analysis since the interpreter of the ECHO images was blinded to MI status. In addition, the diagnostic accuracy of studies that included patients with a previous MI (DOR 21.34, 95%CI: 15.05 – 27.63) did not differ from studies that did not include patients with a history of a previous (DOR 20.40, 95%CI: 11.42 – 29.38) (P=0.87).

Results of Evidence-Based Analysis: Additional Systemic Reviews

Two additional systematic reviews published after the Heijenbrook-Kal et al. (1) study were identified, however, these reviews focused on different populations to those previously described in the MAS analysis. The studies included in the MAS review did not limit to specific populations. The first of these, by Geleijnse et al. (9) focused on dobutamine stress ECHO for the detection of CAD in women and the second, by Biagini et al. (26), focused on the accuracy of stress ECHO for the diagnosis of CAD and prediction of cardiac events in patients with left bundle branch block (LBBB). Given that these reviews focused on particular populations, they were not directly incorporated into the MAS analysis. Nevertheless, many of the original studies included in these two existing systematic reviews were included in the Heijenbrook-Kal et al. (1) review and were, therefore, in the MAS analysis. Briefly, Geleijnse et al. (9) included 14 studies (901 patients) that compared the diagnostic accuracy of dobutamine stress ECHO to CA, either solely in women or in both women and men. The pooled sensitivity was 72% and the specificity was 88%. Seven studies compared the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO in men and women, achieving a pooled sensitivity of 77% in both women and men and a pooled specificity of 81% in women and 77% in men. The authors concluded that despite some theoretical limitations, the test has reasonable sensitivity and excellent specificity for the detection of CAD in women. These results are comparable to those found in the MAS analysis (the majority of studies included in the Geleijnse et al. review were also included in the MAS analysis).

A second systematic review by Biagini et al. (26) focused on the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO in patients with LBBB. In patients with LBBB, mechanical asynchrony between the left and right ventricle results in abnormal septal motion interfering with the interpretation of wall motion abnormalities. They included information on six studies (226 patients), of which five employed a pharmacological stress agent and one used exercise-induced stress. The pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity were 74.6% and 88.7%, respectively. Although this meta-analysis obtained different estimates of diagnostic accuracy in LBBB patients, they varied only slightly from those obtained in the MAS analysis.

Limitations of Analysis

One of the limitations of the current analysis is that study selection was based on the Heijenbrok-Kal et al. (1) review for feasibility reasons. As a result, the studies were published between 1995 and 2001 and more recent studies were not included in the analysis. According to experts, improvements in ECHO imaging have occurred since then. In order to verify that there have been no meaningful changes in the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO over time, a subgroup analysis was performed to compare the sensitivity and specificity of studies published prior to 2000 (n=117) to those published after 2000 (n=10). Over time, there have been no significant changes in the sensitivity (P=0.61) and specificity (P=0.20) of stress ECHO (Table 8).

The MAS evidence-based analysis on stress contrast ECHO also examined five studies that directly compared stress ECHO versus MCE that were published between 2004 and 2007 (for additional information please refer to the EBA on stress contrast ECHO). The estimates of pooled sensitivity for stress ECHO are comparable, though the pooled specificity derived from these newer studies is slightly lower compared to those published prior to 2000 (see Table 9). These results conflict with those from the aforementioned subgroup analysis, however, far fewer newer studies were included. It is possible that a more recent year of publication detrimentally impacts estimates of diagnostic accuracy. Potential explanations include publication bias and selection bias in older studies with strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. (1) Overall, there remains uncertainty on the impact of publication date on estimates of diagnostic accuracy but it appears that the differences over time are not significant.

Table 9:
Effect of Publication Date on Diagnostic Accuracy

Another limitation of the analysis is that stress ECHO was compared to the reference standard of CA, although these modalities diagnose CAD with different approaches. Diagnosis of CAD with stress ECHO relies on functional information such as wall motion, while diagnosis with CA is based on anatomical information (e.g., the degree of coronary artery stenosis).

GRADE Quality of Evidence

The quality of the body of evidence was assessed according to the GRADE Working Group criteria for diagnostic tests (results in Table 10). Overall, the quality was consistent across the cross-sectional studies that assessed accuracy. In studies with multiple comparisons, the assessors were blinded to data from the other imaging modalities. All studies compared stress ECHO to CA as the reference standard. The majority of studies recruited patients who were referred for CA, which may affect the generalizability of the findings in terms of the pre-test probability of CAD.

Table 10:
GRADE Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies for Stress ECHO Compared to Coronary Angiography for the Diagnosis of CAD

As mentioned, there was heterogeneity in the definition of significant CAD, as defined by the percent stenosis. Some studies also included patients with previous MI, however, assessors were blinded to patient history. Lastly, in addition to the subjective interpretation of ECHO images, there was variability in the definition of a positive test result, which may partly explain the different reported sensitivity and specificity across studies. For example, some studies defined a positive test as a new regional wall motion abnormality, while others defined a positive test as the absence of a hyperkinetic contractile response to exercise.

The overall quality of the evidence was graded as low.

Economic Analysis

Disclaimer: The Medical Advisory Secretariat uses a standardized costing method for its economic analyses of interventions. The main cost categories and the associated methods from the province’s perspective are as follows:

Hospital: Ontario Case Costing Initiative cost data are used for in-hospital stay, emergency visit and day procedure costs for the designated International Classification of Diseases (ICD) diagnosis codes and Canadian Classification of Health Interventions procedure codes. Adjustments may be required to reflect accuracy in estimated costs of the diagnoses and procedures under consideration. Due to the difficulties of estimating indirect costs in hospitals associated with a particular diagnosis or procedure, the secretariat normally defaults to considering direct treatment costs only.

Nonhospital: These include physician services costs obtained from the Ontario Schedule of Benefits, laboratory fees from the Ontario Schedule of Laboratory Fees, drug costs from the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary, and device costs from the perspective of local health care institutions whenever possible or its manufacturer.

Discounting: For cost-effectiveness analyses, a discount rate of 5% is applied as recommended by economic guidelines.

Downstream costs: All numbers reported are based on assumptions on population trends (i.e. incidence, prevalence and mortality rates), time horizon, resource utilization, patient compliance, healthcare patterns, market trends (i.e. rates of intervention uptake or trends in current programs in place in the Province), and estimates on funding and prices. These may or may not be realized by the system or individual institutions and are often based on evidence from the medical literature, standard listing references and educated hypotheses from expert panels. In cases where a deviation from this standard is used, an explanation is offered as to the reasons, the assumptions, and the revised approach. The economic analysis represents an estimate only, based on the assumptions and costing methods that have been explicitly stated above. These estimates will change if different assumptions and costing methods are applied to the analysis.

Study Question

The objective of this economic analysis is to determine the cost effectiveness of stress ECHO in the diagnosis of patients with suspected CAD, as compared to contrast ECHO, SPECT, cardiac MRI, and CT angiography. The relative cost-effectiveness of these five non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies was assessed in two patient populations: a) out-patients presenting with stable chest pain; and b) in-patients presenting with acute, unstable chest pain. Note that the term “contrast ECHO” used in the following sections refers to stress echocardiography performed with the availability of contrast medium, if needed, due to poor image quality.

Economic Analysis Overview

For the two patient populations, decision analytic models were developed with two reported outcomes: the cost per accurate diagnosis of CAD (true positives and true negatives) and cost per true positive diagnosis of CAD. The physician and hospital costs for the non-invasive imaging tests were taken from 2009 Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and the Ontario Case Costing Initiative (OCCI) administrative databases. (27;28) A budget impact analysis (BIA) was then performed to assess the effect of replacing a certain proportion of stress ECHO tests with other cost-effective, non-invasive modalities. The costs presented in the BIA were estimated from Ontario data sources from 2009; the volumes of tests performed were estimated from data from fiscal years 2002 to 2008.

Economic Literature Review

The purpose of the systematic review of economic literature was to identify, retrieve, and summarize studies evaluating the cost-effectiveness of selected cardiac imaging tests for the diagnosis of CAD. Medline and the National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHSEED) were searched from their inception up to October 2009. Included studies were those full economic evaluations describing both costs and consequences of a) CT angiography, b) Cardiac MRI, c) SPECT, d) stress ECHO, and e) stress contrast ECHO in CAD diagnosis. Article selection was performed by independent pairs of researchers. Target data for extraction included: study first author and year of publication, imaging tests compared, type of economic analysis, reported costs and outcomes, incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), currency, and patient characteristics (i.e., known or suspected CAD and risk of CAD). The primary outcome of interest was the ICER of each imaging test in relation to another test of interest.

Literature Search Results

A total of 883 non-duplicate citations were found from the two electronic databases after applying the literature search strategy. Based on the content of their abstracts, 147 full-text articles were retrieved for further assessment. Of these, 122 were rejected leaving 25 articles for inclusion. Following the data extraction process, 13 studies were excluded (29-40), with 12 studies being ultimately selected for analysis.(10;41-51) (52)

Characteristics of Included Studies

From the 12 studies included, eight assessed the cost-effectiveness of two of the selected imaging tests (44-47;49-51), three evaluated three concomitant technologies (10;41;48) and one study evaluated five technologies.(42)

Five studies were cost-effectiveness analyses, where the most common outcome was cost per correct/successful CAD diagnosis. (41;42;49-51) The other seven studies were cost-utility analyses using cost per quality adjusted life years (QALYs) as their primary outcome.(10;43-48) The time-horizon used across the included studies ranged from 30 days to lifetime, with five studies having 25 years or more of follow-up. (43-45;47;50) The remaining studies used 18 months (10), 3 months (51), and 30 days of analytical time horizon.(46) Four studies did not report the time-horizon used in their analysis.(41;42;48;49)

All included studies evaluated at least one form of ECHO against one of the other selected tests. (10;41-51) The cost-effectiveness of SPECT was studied in nine studies (10;41;43-45;47;48;50;51), three studies assessed CT angiography in comparison to stress ECHO or MRI (42;46;49), while cardiac MRI was compared to each of the three other selected imaging tests in two studies.(10;42) No full economic analysis between CT angiography and SPECT was found in the published literature.

Literature Results for Stress ECHO

The cost-effectiveness of stress ECHO was assessed against three selected cardiac imaging tests: SPECT, CT angiography and cardiac MRI (see Table 11). Nine comparisons were made against SPECT and in three of these stress ECHO was considered dominant (i.e., lower cost, better outcomes).(41;44;45) In one comparison, stress ECHO produced the same amount of QALYs as SPECT, but with higher costs, thus it was not considered cost-effective.(10) In three other comparisons, the base-case ICER per QALY reported for stress ECHO versus SPECT was above the $50,000 threshold.(43;47;50) In all three analyses, however, stress ECHO showed lower costs and worse outcomes, thus still accepted as cost-effective. Another analysis of stress ECHO versus SPECT estimated an ICER per correct CAD diagnosis of CDN $5,029, but stress ECHO was found to be the alternative with lower costs and worst outcomes.(51) The final comparison did not report an ICER for the analysis, however, it was stated that stress ECHO was cost-effective only when the probability of CAD was lower or equal to 20%.(48)

Table 11:
Summary incremental cost-effectiveness ratios across selected studies evaluating stress ECHO

When compared against CT angiography, ECHO was not considered cost-effective in all three analyses.(42;46;49) In one of the comparisons, stress ECHO was dominated (i.e., higher cost, worst outcomes).(46) The remaining studies evaluated the cost per correct/successful diagnosis of CAD, but they did not report an ICER value of stress ECHO versus CT angiography. Both studies reported that under pre-test likelihood or prevalence of CAD greater than 60%, CT angiography was the cost-effective strategy.(42;49)

Two economic evaluations compared stress ECHO to MRI.(10;42) In one analysis, stress ECHO was found to be cost-effective over MRI with a reported base-case ICER per QALY of GBP £13,200.(10) The remaining study did not report an ICER, although it was stated that both stress ECHO and MRI were not considered cost-effective when compared to CT angiography. (42)

Conclusion of Systematic Review

Overall, CT angiography was found to be cost-effective or cost-saving in all four comparisons of that technology, stress ECHO was found cost-effective in eight of the 13 comparisons in which it was evaluated, and SPECT was found cost-effective in three of the nine comparisons. Cardiac MRI was not found to be cost-effective or cost-saving in any of the four comparisons found.

According to the published economic data from the literature, CT angiography is often found to be cost-effective when compared to other technologies. SPECT and stress ECHO were also found to be cost-effective in several of the comparative studies examined, while cardiac MRI was not cost-effective in any study. Limitations to these conclusions apply, such as the analyses found in the literature evaluated other forms of the selected cardiac imaging tests which might change the proposed relative cost-effectiveness.

Decision analytic Cost Effectiveness Analysis

Design

This study was designed as a cost effectiveness analysis, with primary results reported as incremental cost per true positive diagnosis, or incremental cost per accurate diagnosis.

Target Population and Perspective

Two populations were defined for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of an accurate diagnosis (i.e. true positive and true negative diagnoses) of CAD: a) out-patients presenting with stable chest pain; and b) in-patients presenting with acute, unstable chest pain. The first population was defined as persons presenting with stable chest pain, with an intermediate risk of CAD following physical examination and a graded exercise test, as defined by the American College of Cardiology / American Heart Association 2002 Guideline Update for the Management of Patients with Chronic Stable Angina.(53) The second population was defined as persons presenting to emergency for acute, unstable chest pain, and who are admitted to hospital, as defined by the American College of Cardiology / American Heart Association 2007 Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Unstable Angina/Non-ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction.(54)

The analytic perspective was that of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).

Comparators and Parameter Estimates

The imaging technologies that were compared in the current cost-effectiveness analysis included: CT angiography, stress ECHO with and without a contrast medium, cardiac perfusion stress MRI, and attenuation-corrected SPECT. Test characteristic estimates (i.e. specificity, sensitivity, accuracy) for each cardiac imaging technology were obtained from the systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by MAS and the MOHLTC. Table 12 shows a list of the parameters with corresponding 95% confidence intervals used for both the outpatient and inpatient decision-analytic cost-effectiveness models.

Table 12:
Summary parameter estimates for stress ECHO tests

The average wait-time for each cardiac imaging test was measured as the additional days needed to wait for a non-invasive test compared to the average wait time for a typical graded exercise stress test (GXT). The proportion of tests deemed uninterpretable by expert opinion is shown with a corresponding range of high and low values. The probability of receiving pharmacological stress versus exercise stress is not listed, but reported here for completeness: approximate values of 30% for the stable, outpatient population and 80% for the unstable, inpatient population.

Time Horizon & Discounting

The time horizon for both decision-analytic models (i.e. for outpatient and inpatient populations) was the time required to determine an accurate, or true positive diagnosis of CAD. As a result, the actual time taken to determine the CAD status of patients may differ across non-invasive test strategies.

Model Structure and Outcomes

Figure 6 provides a simplified illustration of the decision-analytic model structure used for the outpatient and inpatient populations. The following two simplifying assumptions were made for the models:

Figure 6:
Decision analytic model used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of cardiac imaging technologies for the diagnosis of CAD
  1. When results of the first cardiac imaging test are un-interpretable, a patient will undergo a second cardiac test. This will be one of the four remaining tests that were not used as the first test.
  2. Should a second test be required, the type of stress (pharmacological or exercise) that a patient receives will be the same type as used in the first.

The short-term outcome presented in this report focuses on an accurate diagnosis of CAD (i.e. true positive and true negative test results). A second outcome of true positive diagnosis was examined for the two models, with results reported in The Relative Cost-effectiveness of Five Non-invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease in Ontario. (52)

Sensitivity Analyses

Various sensitivity analyses were conducted for the outpatient and inpatient populations. First, the prevalence of CAD was varied from 5% to 95% in 5% increments, while all other model estimates were held constant. Willingness-to-pay (WTP) was also varied and a range of results were presented. Second, one-way sensitivity analyses were conducted in which selected estimates were varied over plausible ranges. The varied parameters included sensitivity and specificity estimates, wait times for imaging tests performed in hospital, as well as the costs of CT angiography, ECHO tests, and cardiac MRI. A third series of sensitivity analyses was conducted that specifically addressed the possibility of unavailable imaging technologies.

Resource Use and Costs

Resource use and costs were derived from Ontario data sources: the OHIP and OCCI administrative databases.(27;28) The cost of conducting each cardiac test was calculated as the sum of the test’s respective professional fees and technical fees, as described in the Ontario Schedule of Benefits and listed in Table 13. Note that for ECHO tests with available contrast agent, the cost for the contrast medium was added whenever the contrast was used in the event of uninterpretable ECHO test result. The cost of this contrast medium was estimated as $170 per vial (single use) through consultation with industry experts. Only this cost was added to the base test cost of contrast ECHO. In general, where an imaging test result was uninterpretable, an additional cost of follow-up with the patient (physician fee) was incurred, as well as the cost for conducting another cardiac imaging test. For out-patients presenting with stable chest pain, a consultation professional fee of $30.60 (OHIP code A608 for “partial assessment”) was used after an uninterpretable test result (one time cost).

Table 13:
List of cardiac imaging tests and associated OHIP 2009 costs

In the case of patients presenting with acute, unstable chest pain, costs for inpatient hospitalization were also included in the model. The total cost of hospitalization was calculated based on the average wait time for each cardiac imaging test and a cost per diem for each day spent in hospital (for the stress ECHO wait time, see Table 12). An additional consultation fee was also used only for the inpatient population: $29.20 (OHIP code C602 for “subsequent visit- first five weeks”) was used for each inpatient day spent in hospital.

Willingness-to-pay

The WTP must be determined by the MOHLTC. As such, all reasonable WTP values presented in the Results and Discussion section are interpreted at two WTP ‘anchors’ representing the estimated cost of the most expensive non-invasive test considered in our model (cardiac MRI perfusion, $804) and the estimated cost of a coronary angiography ($1,433). These anchors are intended to guide discussion only.

Note that the following points are useful in determining the WTP:

  • An “accurate diagnosis” of CAD can be obtained through a coronary angiography for $1,433. It would thus be reasonable to expect the WTP for an accurate diagnosis through a non-invasive test to resemble this amount; however, an accurate diagnosis does not include the value or benefit of providing additional diagnostic or prognostic information from either non-invasive imaging or coronary angiography
  • The MOHLTC is currently willing to pay up to $804 for a non-invasive test with less-than-perfect diagnostic accuracy. Its willingness to pay for an accurate diagnosis from such a test thus appears to be greater than $804.
  • While coronary angiography is invasive, the other tests are non-invasive and would presumably be of greater value (i.e., incur a higher premium). These tests do, however, impose risks not applicable to coronary angiography, such as increased radiation exposure and adverse reaction to contrast agents
  • These tests are not perfectly accurate. An accurate diagnosis from such a test may be valued less than one from a coronary angiography

Results and Discussion

As shown in Tables 14 and 15, stress ECHO was dominated by both CT angiography and contrast ECHO (that is, it had higher costs and was less effective) in both populations for the outcome of interest (i.e., accurate diagnosis of CAD). Sensitivity analysis results changed very little from those of the base-case analysis, with one exception. When both CT angiography and contrast ECHO were removed from the analysis, stress ECHO appeared to be the most cost-effective strategy for stable outpatients for CAD prevalences ranging between 5% and 30%, and possibly the most cost-effective strategy for a CAD prevalence of up to 95%.

Stress ECHO is generally not cost-effective in comparison to other non-invasive strategies for the diagnosis of CAD in either stable outpatients or acute inpatients. Stress ECHO appears cost-effective only in specific situations where other more cost-effective technologies are unavailable.

Table 14:
Cost-effectiveness analysis base case results for stable outpatients
Table 15:
Cost-effectiveness analysis base case results for acute inpatients

Budget Impact Analysis

The budget impact analysis (BIA) was performed taking the perspective of the MOHLTC and includes both physician and hospital (clinic) costs of non-invasive cardiac imaging tests. Volumes of cardiac tests in Ontario were taken from administrative databases (OHIP, DAD, NACRS) for fiscal years 2004 to 2008. (52) The following technologies were considered in the current BIA for the diagnosis of CAD: ECHO (including both stress and stress with contrast agent available), nuclear cardiac imaging (including MPI and SPECT tests), cardiac MRI, and CT angiography.

In the current BIA, the effect of moving a certain proportion of the volume of specific tests to another, substitute technology was assessed for various scenarios. These scenarios are presented irrespective of whether a technology was found to be cost-effective and are reported as general reference tables. To summarize briefly, stress ECHO tests are the least expensive of the compared cardiac imaging modalities. When the volume of stress ECHO tests is shifted to other technologies, all scenarios result in higher projected costs. If 25% of the stress ECHO tests are moved to other imaging technologies, ensuing projected costs would be higher: from a small cost difference of about $166K per year for contrast available stress ECHO testing to a large difference of $10.2M for cardiac MRI testing. The largest possible cost difference corresponds to replacing 50% of stress ECHO tests with cardiac MRI imaging ($20.5M per year); the smallest possible cost difference occurs by replacing 5% of stress ECHO tests with contrast available stress ECHO imaging ($33.2K per year).

Existing Guidelines for ECHO

There are several existing guidelines published by cardiology and echocardiography societies concerning the clinical application of stress ECHO. Some guidelines also focus on appropriateness criteria for stress ECHO. Table 11 below outlines some of the most widely cited guidelines.

Table 11:
Guidelines on ECHO

Ontario Health System Impact Analysis

Considerations and/or Implications

The Cardiac Imaging Expert Advisory Panel met on Oct 5th and November 25th, 2009. Experts in ECHO were also consulted and the following comments were made about stress ECHO.

  1. There is no limitation as to where or by which physicians ECHO can be provided
  2. There is growth in the number of ECHO tests performed outside of major centers.
  3. It is estimated that greater than 80% of cardiologists practicing in the community have ECHO and stress capabilities situated on-site within their own clinics. Of these, it is estimated that roughly half of cardiologists practicing in the community perform stress ECHO.
  4. Outpatient stress ECHO facilities perform exclusively exercise ECHO.
  5. In-hospital stress ECHO labs employ pharmacological stress agents and exercise as stress in roughly equal amounts.
  6. Dobutamine is the pharmacological stress agent that is most frequently used in Ontario
  7. There are no accessibility issues for ECHO.
  8. Since analysis of ECHO images is subjective in nature, the physician’s degree of expertise and the technologist’s experience largely impacts confidence in test results.
  9. ECHO image quality may have improved over time.
  10. 3-Dimensional ECHO is still in developmental phases.
  11. Newer quantitative methods of interpreting ECHO images are not yet routinely used.
  12. The physician billing structure for stress ECHO should be advised to reflect that a minimum ECHO study to perform diagnostic information would include an M-mode, D-dimensional and Doppler component.
  13. There are concerns about inappropriate use of stress ECHO. Emerging appropriateness criteria should be examined and adapted for Ontario. This should include training requirements for the performance and interpretation of stress ECHO.

Conclusion

Given the vast amount of published literature on stress ECHO, it was decided to use the studies contained in the comprehensive review by Heijenbrok-Kal et al. (1) as a basis for the MAS analysis. In applying our inclusion and exclusion criteria, 105 observational studies containing information on 13,102 patients were included in our analysis. Six studies examined stress ECHO with adenosine, 26 with dipyridamole and 77 with dobutamine, which is the most commonly used pharmacological stress ECHO agent in Ontario. A further 18 studies employed exercise as the stressor.4 The prevalence of CAD ranged from 19% to 94% with a mean estimated prevalence of 70%. Based on the results of these studies the following conclusions were made:

  • Based on the available evidence, stress ECHO is a useful imaging modality for the diagnosis of CAD in patients with suspected disease. The overall pooled sensitivity is 0.80 (95% CI 0.77 – 0.82) and the pooled specificity is 0.84 (95% CI 0.82 – 0.87) using CA as the reference standard. The AUC derived from the sROC curve is 0.895 and the DOR is 20.64.
  • For pharmacological stress, the pooled sensitivity is 0.79 (95% CI 0.71 – 0.87) and the pooled specificity is 0.85 (95% CI 0.83 – 0.88). When exercise is employed as the stress agent, the pooled sensitivity is 0.81 (95% CI 0.76– 0.86) and the pooled specificity is 0.79 (95% CI 0.71 – 0.87). Although pharmacological stress and exercise would be indicated for different patient populations (based on ability to exercise) there were no significant differences in sensitivity and specificity between the two groups.
  • Based on the opinions of clinical experts, the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO depends on the patient population, the expertise of the interpreter, and the quality of the image.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Literature Search Strategies

Search date: August 28, 2009

Databases searched: OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment

Database: Ovid MEDLINE(R) <1950 to August Week 3 2009≥

Search Strategy:

  1. exp Myocardial Ischemia/ (301645)
  2. (coronary adj2 arter* disease*).mp. [mp=title, original title, abstract, name of substance word, subject heading word] (58420)
  3. ((myocardi* or heart or cardiac or coronary) adj2 (viable or viability or perfusion or function or isch?emi* or atheroscleros* or arterioscleros* or infarct* or occlu* or stenos* or thrombosis)).mp. (258913)
  4. (myocardi* adj2 hibernat*).mp. [mp=title, original title, abstract, name of substance word, subject heading word] (843)
  5. (stenocardia* or angina).mp. [mp=title, original title, abstract, name of substance word, subject heading word] (53364)
  6. heart attack*.mp. (2887)
  7. exp Heart Failure/ (66084)
  8. ((myocardi* or heart or cardiac) adj2 (failure or decompensation or insufficiency)).mp. (107720)
  9. exp Ventricular Dysfunction, Left/ (14865)
  10. (left adj2 ventric* adj2 (dysfunction* or failure or insufficienc*)).mp. (22713)
  11. or/1-10 (462748)
  12. exp Echocardiography/ (82415)
  13. echocardiogr*.ti,ab. (79353)
  14. 13 or 12 (106410)
  15. 11 and 14 (39243)
  16. exp Exercise Test/ (41317)
  17. (test* adj2 (exercise or bicycle or treadmill or stress or ergometr* or pharmacolog* or dobutamine or dipyridamole or persantine or adenosine or regadenoson or lexiscan)).ti,ab. (31014)
  18. 16 or 17 (56646)
  19. 18 and 15 (4497)
  20. limit 19 to (english language and humans and yr=”2007 -Current”) (453)

 

Database: EMBASE <1980 to 2009 Week 34>

Search Strategy:

  1. exp ischemic heart disease/ (238393)
  2. exp coronary artery disease/ (88415)
  3. exp stunned heart muscle/ (1519)
  4. (coronary adj2 arter* disease*).mp. [mp=title, abstract, subject headings, heading word, drug trade name, original title, device manufacturer, drug manufacturer name] (71532)
  5. ((myocardi* or heart or cardiac or coronary) adj2 (viable or viability or perfusion or function or ischemi* or atheroscleros* or arterioscleros* or infarct* or occlu* or stenos* or thrombosis)).mp. [mp=title, abstract, subject headings, heading word, drug trade name, original title, device manufacturer, drug manufacturer name] (275725)
  6. (myocardi* adj2 hibernat*).mp. [mp=title, abstract, subject headings, heading word, drug trade name, original title, device manufacturer, drug manufacturer name] (1057)
  7. (stenocardia* or angina).mp. [mp=title, abstract, subject headings, heading word, drug trade name, original title, device manufacturer, drug manufacturer name] (46318)
  8. heart attack*.mp. (2025)
  9. exp heart failure/ (125232)
  10. ((myocardi* or heart or cardiac) adj2 (failure or decompensation or insufficiency)).mp. [mp=title, abstract, subject headings, heading word, drug trade name, original title, device manufacturer, drug manufacturer name] (107656)
  11. exp heart left ventricle failure/ (9312)
  12. (left adj2 ventric* adj2 (dysfunction* or failure or insufficienc*)).mp. (16093)
  13. or/1-12 (430251)
  14. exp echocardiography/ (93200)
  15. echocardiogra*.mp. [mp=title, abstract, subject headings, heading word, drug trade name, original title, device manufacturer, drug manufacturer name] (104880)
  16. 14 or 15 (104927)
  17. exp exercise test/ (16129)
  18. exp pharmacologic stress testing/ (258)
  19. (test* adj2 (exercise or bicycle or treadmill or stress or ergometr* or pharmacolog* or dobutamine or dipyridamole or persantine or adenosine or regadenoson or lexiscan)).ti,ab. (26337)
  20. or/17-19 (33746)
  21. 16 and 20 (4760)
  22. exp exercise electrocardiography/ (2329)
  23. 21 or 22 (6823)
  24. 13 and 23 (5316)
  25. limit 24 to (human and english language and yr=”2007 -Current”) (651)

 

Appendix 2: Studies Examining the Diagnostic Accuracy of Stress ECHO for CAD

Table A1:

Characteristics of studies comparing the accuracy of Stress ECHO to coronary angiography for the diagnosis of CAD
Study, YearN% malemeanageDefinition of CAD (% CAS)With CAD on CA (%)Included patients with previous MIPercentage with previous MIIncluded patients with unstable angina
Adenosine Stress
Anthopoulos, 1996 (59)1206075500.74YNAN
Anthopoulos, 1997 (60)1286173500.76Y30.0
Djordjevic-Dikic, 1996 (61)5887.950500.69Y41.4N
Fukai, 1995 (62)3862.861750.89YNAN
Miyazono, 1998 (63)11272.399700.55YNANA
Tawa, 1996 (64)4570.158700.73YNAN
Dipyridamole Stress
Astarita, 2001 (65)5354.758500.43NN
Batlle, 1998 (66)560.73
Beleslin, 1999 (67)1680.76
Bjornstad, 1995 (68)9434.259500.60Y29.2N
Bjornstad, 1995 (69)3781.158500.84YNAN
Bjornstad, 1997 (70)2581580.60Y58.0
Cramer, 1996 (71)350.83
Dagianti, 1995 (72)600.42
Fragasso, 1999 (73)10154.561500.56NNA
Gaddi, 1999 (74)2410055500.54NN
Lanzarini, 1995 (75)6195.153500.90YNAN
Loimaala, 1999 (76)6066.755500.73Y15.0N
Maffei, 1998 (77)520.19
Minardi, 1997 (78)470.94
Parodi, 1999 (79)10180.255500.79NN
Parthenakis, 1997 (80)460.61
Pingitore, 1996 (81)11083.360500.84YNAN
San Roman, 1996 (82)1025762500.62NN
San Roman, 1998 (83)1024964500.65NN
Santoro, 1998 (84)60NA700.55NN
Scherhag, 1997 (85)650.42
Schillaci, 1997(86)400.55
Schroder, 1996 (87)1190.87
Schroder 1997(88)740.88
Sochowski, 1995 (89)4667.458700.52NN
Wagdi, 1996(90)7486.561500.84YNAN
Dobutamine Stress
Ahmad, 2001 (91)9046.6NA500.64YNAN
Anthopoulos, 1996 (59)1206075500.74YNAN
Anthopoulos, 1997 (60)1280.76
Ariff, 2000 (92)6668.2NA700.56NA
Batlle, 1998 (66)560.73
Beleslin, 1999 (67)1688251500.76Y50
Bigi, 1995 (93)1210.88
Castini, 1995 (94)4493.256700.86YNAY
Chan, 1995 (95)8479.461700.86YNAN
Dagianti, 1995 (72)600.42
Daoud, 1995 (96)7657.960500.86YNANA
De Bello, 1996 (97)4573.353500.84NN
Derumeaux, 1995 (98)370.38
Dionisopoulos, 1997 (99)2886561500.73N
Dolan, 2001 (100)11261700.81YNAN
Elhendy, 1996 (101)2469.459500.83YNANA
Elhendy, 1996 (102)13376.560500.83YNAN
Elhendy, 1997 (103)720.79
Elhendy, 1997 (104)3060.76
Elhendy, 1998 (105)29069.758500.76YNAN
Elhendy, 1998 (106)295NA500.77YNAN
Elhendy, 1998 (107)8463.160500.79YNAN
Elhendy, 1998 (108)70058500.64YNAN
Elhendy, 1999 (109)908057500.81Y100NA
Fragasso, 1999 (73)10154.561500.56NNA
Frohwein, 1995 (110)40100NA500.68YNAN
Geleijnse, 1995 (111)22368.658500.64NN
Hennessy, 1997 (112)1180.74
Hennessy, 1997(113)2190.78
Hennessy, 1997 (114)1990.94
Hennessy, 1997(115)5271.256500.75Y26.9N
Hennessy, 1997 (116)31772.260500.86YNAN
Hennessy, 1998 (117)21872.962500.91YNAN
Herzog, 1999 (118)506051500.54Y8N
Ho, 1995 (119)540.80
Ho, 1997 (120)20610058500.78Y42.5
Ho, 1997 (121)5176.556500.75YNAN
Ho, 1997 (122)22380.758500.73YNAN
Ho, 1998 (123)5673.360500.52YNAN
Ho, 1998 (124)51062500.57YNAN
Hoffmann, 1996 (125)600.75
Hoffmann, 1996 (126)15079.546500.63Y9.3N
Hoffmann, 1999 (127)28378.456500.65Y16.6N
Huang, 1997 (128)930.72
Iwase, 1996 (129)9569.859700.66YNAN
Joseph, 2000 (130)6386.865700.44YNAN
Khattar, 1998 (131)1007062500.74YNAN
Kisacik, 1996 (132)690.68
Latcham, 1995 (133)10660.763500.81YNANA
Lewis, 1999 (134)92057500.27
Ling, 1996 (135)1830.81
Loimaala, 1999 (76)6066.755500.73Y15N
Mairesse, 1995 (136)247561500.63YNANA
Minardi, 1997 (78)470.94
Nagel, 1999 (137)16370.760500.67NN
Oguzhan, 1997 (138)7084.351700.70YNAN
Ozdemir, 1999 (139)6379.252500.67YNAN
Pasierski, 2001 (140)2486753500.47NNA
Peteiro, 2001 (141)417863500.78YNANA
Pingitore, 1996 (81)11083.360500.84YNAN
Reis, 1995 (142)3062.947500.77YNANA
San Roman, 1996 (82)1025762500.62NN
San Roman, 1998 (83)1024964500.65NN
Santoro, 1998 (84)60NA700.55NN
Schroder, 1996 (87)460.83
Senior, 1996 (143)4374.489500.67YNAN
Senior, 1998 (144)1217762700.49Y29
Shaheen, 1998 (145)64NA700.66NANANA
Slavich, 1996 (146)46059500.48N
Smart, 1997 (147)2060.83
Smart, 2000 (148)38665.561500.73YNAN
Sochowski, 1995 (89)4667.458700.52NN
Takeuchi, 1996 (149)70065500.29NN
Therre, 1999 (150)8560500.38YNAN
Vitarelli, 1997 (151)5964.452700.81YNAN
Wu, 1996 (152)1040.65
Yeo, 1996 (153)6457.857700.56YNANA
Exercise Stress
Badruddin, 1999 (154)6791.959500.85YNAN
Bjornstad, 1995 (69)376457500.84YNANA
Chaudhry, 2000 (155)2810066500.57YNANA
Dagianti, 1995 (72)6079540.42Y39
Jun, 19964783540.68Y17
Loimaala, 1999 (76)6066.755500.73Y15N
Luotolahti, 1996 (156)11885550.92Y48
Marwick, 1995 (157)1610600.37N
Marwick, 1995(158)14759580.42N
Pasierski, 2001 (140)2486753500.47NNANA
Peteiro, 1999 (159)7977.562500.89YNANA
Roger, 1995 (160)127NA500.84NA
Roger, 1997(161)34071.865500.74NNA
Roger, 1997 (162)244100640.80N
Schroder, 1997 (88)740.88
Tawa, 1996 (64)4570.158700.73YNAN
Tian, 1996 (163)468354500.70YNAN
Toumanidis, 1996 (164)7071.454500.36NNA
Note: Data was obtained from existing systemic reviews and an attempt was made to capture missing study information from original publications when possible.
CA, coronary angiography; CAD, coronary artery disease; CAS, coronary artery stenosis; NA, not available

Table A2:

Calculated estimates of diagnostic accuracy from studies comparing stress ECHO to coronary angiography for the diagnosis of CAD
Study, YearTPFPFNTNSens
(%)
Spec
(%)
PPV
(%)
NPV
(%)
+LR-LRDiagnostic
Accuracy (%)
Adenosine Stress
Anthopoulos, 1996 (59)592830366.39.767.89.10.73.551.7
Anthopoulos, 1997 (60)643332866.090.395.545.96.80.471.9
Djordjevic-Dikic, 1996 (61)300101875.097.398.464.327.80.382.1
Fukai, 1995 (62)22012464.788.997.825.05.80.467.5
Miyazono, 1998 (63)465164574.290.090.273.87.40.381.3
Tawa, 1996 (64)29141187.991.796.773.310.50.188.9
Dipyridamole Stress
Astarita, 2001 (65)18053078.398.497.385.747.70.289.7
Batlle, 1998 (66)34071582.996.898.668.225.70.286.7
Beleslin, 1999 (67)785503560.987.594.041.24.90.467.3
Bjornstad, 1995 (68)413153573.292.193.270.09.30.380.9
Bjornstad, 1995 (69)21010667.792.397.737.58.80.372.0
Bjornstad, 1997 (70)1124873.380.084.666.73.70.376.0
Cramer, 1996 (71)2019569.083.395.235.74.10.471.4
Dagianti, 1995 (72)131123452.097.192.973.918.20.578.3
Fragasso, 1999 (73)354224061.490.989.764.56.80.474.3
Gaddi, 1999 (74)12011192.395.796.091.721.20.193.9
Lanzarini, 1995 (75)45110581.883.397.833.34.90.282.0
Loimaala, 1999 (76)41431293.275.091.180.03.70.188.3
Maffei, 1998 (77)101103195.273.847.698.43.60.178.1
Minardi, 1997 (78)32112272.766.797.014.32.20.472.3
Parodi, 1999 (79)625181677.576.292.547.13.30.377.2
Parthenakis, 1997 (80)160121857.197.397.060.021.10.473.1
Pingitore, 1996 (81)751171781.594.498.750.014.70.283.6
San Roman, 1996 (82)491143877.897.498.073.130.30.285.3
San Roman, 1998 (83)542123481.894.496.473.914.70.286.3
Santoro, 1998 (84)181152654.596.394.763.414.70.573.3
Scherhag, 1997 (85)20473474.189.583.382.97.00.383.1
Schillaci, 1997(86)18541381.872.278.376.52.90.377.5
Schroder, 1996 (87)753281372.881.396.231.73.90.373.9
Schroder 1997(88)50115876.988.998.034.86.90.378.4
Sochowski, 1995 (89)16198366.713.645.727.30.82.441.3
Wagdi, 1996(90)260361241.996.098.125.010.50.651.0
Dobutamine Stress
Ahmad, 2001 (91)346242658.681.385.052.03.10.566.7
Anthopoulos, 1996 (59)775122686.583.993.968.45.40.285.8
Anthopoulos, 1997 (60)835142685.683.994.365.05.30.285.2
Ariff, 2000 (92)30672381.179.383.376.73.90.280.3
Batlle, 1998 (66)33181480.593.397.163.612.10.283.9
Beleslin, 1999 (67)988303276.680.092.551.63.80.377.4
Bigi, 1995 (93)861211380.492.998.938.211.30.281.8
Castini, 1995 (94)26012668.492.398.133.38.90.371.9
Chan, 1995 (95)63291087.583.396.952.65.30.286.9
Dagianti, 1995 (72)18173472.097.194.782.925.20.386.7
Daoud, 1995 (96)6035892.372.795.261.53.40.189.5
De Bello, 1996 (97)2919676.385.796.740.05.30.377.8
Derumeaux, 1995 (98)12222185.791.385.791.39.90.289.2
Dionisopoulos, 1997 (99)1819287086.688.695.371.47.60.287.2
Dolan, 2001 (100)654261771.481.094.239.53.80.473.2
Elhendy, 1996 (101)1218360.075.092.327.32.40.562.5
Elhendy, 1996 (102)873241978.486.496.744.25.70.379.7
Elhendy, 1997 (103)372201364.986.794.939.44.90.469.4
Elhendy, 1997 (104)17211616273.884.994.050.44.90.376.5
Elhendy, 1998 (105)16410575974.285.594.350.95.10.376.9
Elhendy, 1998 (106)1719575875.086.695.050.45.60.377.6
Elhendy, 1998 (107)483181572.783.394.145.54.40.375.0
Elhendy, 1998 (108)352102377.892.094.669.79.70.282.9
Elhendy, 1999 (109)613121483.682.495.353.84.70.283.3
Fragasso, 1999 (73)50973587.779.584.783.34.30.284.2
Frohwein, 1995 (110)22151281.592.395.770.610.60.285.0
Geleijnse, 1995 (111)10317406372.078.885.861.23.40.474.4
Hennessy, 1997 (114)6911182079.364.586.352.62.20.375.4
Hennessy, 1997(113)13917313281.865.389.150.82.40.378.1
Hennessy, 1997 (112)169618690.450.096.625.01.80.287.9
Hennessy, 1997(115)3267782.153.884.250.01.80.375.0
Hennessy, 1997 (116)23417402685.460.593.239.42.20.282.0
Hennessy, 1998 (117)9731011749.085.097.014.43.30.652.3
Herzog, 1999 (118)146131751.973.970.056.72.00.762.0
Ho, 1995 (119)4033893.072.793.072.73.40.188.9
Ho, 1997 (120)1448163890.082.694.770.45.20.188.3
Ho, 1997 (121)35331092.176.992.176.94.00.188.2
Ho, 1997 (122)15213104893.878.792.182.84.40.189.7
Ho, 1998 (123)26432389.785.286.788.56.10.187.5
Ho, 1998 (124)27421893.181.887.190.05.10.188.2
Hoffmann, 1996 (125)352101377.886.794.656.55.80.380.0
Hoffmann, 1996 (126)727234875.887.391.167.66.00.380.0
Hoffmann, 1999 (127)13222517872.178.085.760.53.30.474.2
Huang, 1997 (128)62652092.576.991.280.04.00.188.2
Iwase, 1996 (129)503132979.490.694.369.08.50.283.2
Joseph, 2000 (130)188102764.377.169.273.02.80.571.4
Khattar, 1998 (131)505242167.680.890.946.73.50.471.0
Kisacik, 1996 (132)41361987.286.493.276.06.40.187.0
Latcham, 1995 (133)647221374.465.090.137.12.10.472.6
Lewis, 1999 (134)1013155440.080.643.578.32.10.769.6
Ling, 1996 (135)1411871795.348.688.770.81.90.186.3
Loimaala, 1999 (76)42621095.562.587.583.32.50.186.7
Mairesse, 1995 (136)1520796.877.888.293.34.40.089.8
Minardi, 1997 (78)33111275.066.797.115.42.30.474.5
Nagel, 1999 (137)8110284474.381.589.061.14.00.376.7
Oguzhan, 1997 (138)44251989.890.595.779.29.40.190.0
Ozdemir, 1999 (139)39331892.985.792.985.76.50.190.5
Pasierski, 2001 (140)8633012974.197.796.681.132.60.386.7
Peteiro, 2001 (141)2616881.388.996.357.17.30.282.9
Pingitore, 1996 (81)87251694.688.997.876.28.50.193.6
Reis, 1995 (142)2211695.785.795.785.76.70.193.3
San Roman, 1996 (82)492143777.894.996.172.515.20.284.3
San Roman, 1998 (83)524143278.888.992.969.67.10.282.4
Santoro, 1998 (84)201132660.696.395.266.716.40.476.7
Schroder, 1996 (87)2919776.387.596.743.86.10.378.3
Senior, 1996 (143)27021493.196.698.287.527.00.194.3
Senior, 1998 (144)4214174871.277.475.073.83.20.474.4
Shaheen, 1998 (145)37451888.181.890.278.34.80.185.9
Slavich, 1996 (146)13691859.175.068.466.72.40.567.4
Smart, 1997 (147)1407312881.980.095.247.54.10.281.6
Smart, 2000 (148)23814429285.086.894.468.76.40.285.5
Sochowski, 1995 (89)17471870.881.881.072.03.90.476.1
Takeuchi, 1996 (149)15454675.092.078.990.29.40.387.1
Therre, 1999 (150)251374078.175.565.885.13.20.376.5
Vitarelli, 1997 (151)4127985.481.895.356.34.70.284.7
Wu, 1996 (152)552133480.994.496.572.314.60.285.6
Yeo, 1996 (153)32642288.978.684.284.64.10.184.4
Exercise Stress
Badruddin, 1999 (154)42115973.790.097.737.57.40.376.1
Bjornstad, 1995 (69)2625483.966.792.944.42.50.281.1
Chaudhry, 2000 (155)1234975.075.080.069.23.00.375.0
Dagianti, 1995 (72)19263376.094.390.584.613.30.386.7
Jun, 199628141487.593.396.677.813.10.189.4
Loimaala, 1999 (76)4094790.943.881.663.61.60.278.3
Luotolahti, 1996 (156)10137793.570.097.150.03.10.191.5
Marwick, 1995 (157)4719128379.781.471.287.44.30.280.7
Marwick, 1995(158)448187771.090.684.681.17.50.382.3
Pasierski, 2001 (140)9552112781.996.295.085.821.60.289.5
Peteiro, 1999 (159)51419572.955.692.720.81.60.570.9
Roger, 1995 (160)946131487.970.094.051.92.90.285.0
Roger, 1997(161)19752553678.240.979.139.61.30.568.5
Roger, 1997 (162)15128432277.844.084.433.81.40.570.9
Schroder, 1997 (88)35130853.888.997.221.14.80.558.1
Tawa, 1996 (64)31221093.983.393.983.35.60.191.1
Tian, 1996 (163)28141387.592.996.676.512.30.189.1
Toumanidis, 1996 (164)181073572.077.864.383.33.20.475.7
FN, false negative; FP, false positive; LR, likelihood ratio; Sens, sensitivity; Spec, specificity; NPV, negative predictive value; PPV, positive predictive value; TN, true negative; TP, true positive

Notes

Suggested Citation

This report should be cited as follows:

Medical Advisory Secretariat. Stress echocardiography for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease: an evidence-based analysis. Ont Health Technol Assess Ser [Internet]. 2010 June [cited YYYY MM DD]; 10(9) 1-61. Available from: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/tech/reviews/pdf/cardiac_stress_echo_20100528.pdf

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About the Medical Advisory Secretariat

The Medical Advisory Secretariat is part of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The mandate of the Medical Advisory Secretariat is to provide evidence-based policy advice on the coordinated uptake of health services and new health technologies in Ontario to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and to the healthcare system. The aim is to ensure that residents of Ontario have access to the best available new health technologies that will improve patient outcomes.

The Medical Advisory Secretariat also provides a secretariat function and evidence-based health technology policy analysis for review by the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC).

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The information gathered is the foundation of the evidence to determine if a technology is effective and safe for use in a particular clinical population or setting. Information is collected to understand how a new technology fits within current practice and treatment alternatives. Details of the technology’s diffusion into current practice and input from practising medical experts and industry add important information to the review of the provision and delivery of the health technology in Ontario. Information concerning the health benefits; economic and human resources; and ethical, regulatory, social and legal issues relating to the technology assist policy makers to make timely and relevant decisions to optimize patient outcomes.

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Disclaimer

This evidence-based analysis was prepared by the Medical Advisory Secretariat, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, for the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee and developed from analysis, interpretation, and comparison of scientific research and/or technology assessments conducted by other organizations. It also incorporates, when available, Ontario data, and information provided by experts and applicants to the Medical Advisory Secretariat to inform the analysis. While every effort has been made to reflect all scientific research available, this document may not fully do so. Additionally, other relevant scientific findings may have been reported since completion of the review. This evidence-based analysis is current to the date of the literature review specified in the methods section. This analysis may be superseded by an updated publication on the same topic. Please check the Medical Advisory Secretariat Website for a list of all evidence-based analyses: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/ohtas.

List of Tables

Table 1: Interpretation of ECHO Images Obtained at Rest and During Stress
Table 2: Echocardiography Systems Licensed by Health Canada
Table 3: Characteristics of Meta-Analyses Included in Heijenbrok-Kal, 2007 Systematic Review*
Table 4: Quality of Evidence of Included Studies on Stress ECHO
Table 5: Estimates of Pooled Sensitivity, Pooled Specificity and Diagnostic Odds Ratio Derived From Studies Comparing Stress ECHO to Coronary Angiography for the Diagnosis of CAD
Table 6: Comparisons of Pooled Sensitivity and Pooled Specificity
Table 7: Area Under the Curve for Stress ECHO
Table 8: Subgroup Analyses of Stress Agents Using Diagnostic Odds Ratios for Stress ECHO
Table 9: Effect of Publication Date on Diagnostic Accuracy
Table 10: GRADE Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies for Stress ECHO Compared to Coronary Angiography for the Diagnosis of CAD
Table 11: Summary incremental cost-effectiveness ratios across selected studies evaluating stress ECHO
Table 12: Summary parameter estimates for stress ECHO tests: sensitivity, specificity; additional days needed to wait for specific cardiac tests; proportion of non-invasive tests considered uninterpretable
Table 13: List of cardiac imaging tests and associated OHIP 2009 costs
Table 14: Cost-effectiveness analysis base case results for stable outpatients
Table 15: Cost-effectiveness analysis base case results for acute inpatients
Table 11: Guidelines on ECHO
Table A1: Characteristics of studies comparing the accuracy of Stress ECHO to coronary angiography for the diagnosis of CAD
Table A2: Calculated estimates of diagnostic accuracy from studies comparing stress ECHO to coronary angiography for the diagnosis of CAD

List of Abbreviations

AUC
Area under the curve
CA
Coronary angiography
CAD
Coronary artery disease
CI
Confidence interval(s)
DOR
Diagnostic odds ratio
ECHO
Echocardiography
LV
Left ventricle
MAS
Medical Advisory Secretariat
MCE
Myocardial contrast echocardiography
MI
Myocardial infarction
OHTAC
Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee
RCT
Randomized controlled trial
SD
Standard deviation
SROC
Summary receiver operating characteristic
WMA
Wall motion analysis

Footnotes

1Clinical utility is defined as a technology that aids in clinical treatment decision-making

2A study was counted twice if data was reported on different stress agents.

3Clinical utility is defined as a technology that aids in clinical treatment decision-making.

4A study was counted twice if data was reported on different stress agents.

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