The objective of this health technology policy assessment was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of using intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) as an adjunctive imaging tool to coronary angiography for guiding percutaneous coronary interventions.
Intravascular ultrasound is a procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to acquire 3-dimensional images from the lumen of a blood vessel. The equipment for performing IVUS consists of a percutaneous transducer catheter and a console for reconstructing images. IVUS has been used to study the structure of the arterial wall and nature of atherosclerotic plaques, and obtain measurements of the vessel lumen. Its role in guiding stent placement is also being investigated. IVUS is presently not an insured health service in Ontario.
Coronary artery disease accounts for approximately 55% of cardiovascular deaths, the leading cause of death in Canada. In Ontario, the annual mortality rate due to ischemic heart disease was 141.8 per 100,000 population between 1995 and 1997. Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a less invasive approach to treating coronary artery disease, is used more frequently than coronary bypass surgery in Ontario. The number of percutaneous coronary intervention procedures funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care is expected to increase from approximately 17, 780 in 2004/2005 to 22,355 in 2006/2007 (an increase of 26%), with about 95% requiring the placement of one or more stents. Restenosis following percutaneous coronary interventions involving bare metal stents occurs in 15% to 30% of the cases, mainly because of smooth muscle proliferation and migration, and production of extracellular matrix. In-stent restenosis has been linked to suboptimal stent expansion and inadequate lesion coverage, while stent thrombosis has been attributed to incomplete stent-to-vessel wall apposition. Since coronary angiography (the imaging tool used to guide stent placement) has been shown to be inaccurate in assessing optimal stent placement, and IVUS can provide better views of the vessel lumen, the clinical utility of IVUS as an imaging tool adjunctive to coronary angiography in coronary intervention procedures has been explored in clinical studies.
A systematic review was conducted to answer the following questions:
What are the procedure-related complications associated with IVUS?
Does IVUS used in conjunction with angiography to guide percutaneous interventions improve patient outcomes compared to angiographic guidance without IVUS?
Who would benefit most in terms of clinical outcomes from the use of IVUS adjunctive to coronary angiography in guiding PCIs?
What is the effectiveness of IVUS guidance in the context of drug-eluting stents?
What is the cost-effectiveness ratio and budget impact of adjunctive IVUS in PCIs in Ontario?
A systematic search of databases OVID MEDLINE, EMBASE, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) database for the period beginning in May 2001 until the day of the search, November 4, 2005 yielded 2 systematic reviews, 1 meta-analysis, 6 randomized controlled trials, and 2 non-randomized studies on left main coronary arteries. The quality of the studies ranged from moderate to high. These reports were combined with reports from a previous systematic review for analysis. In addition to qualitative synthesis, pooled analyses of data from randomized controlled studies using a random effect model in the Cochrane Review Manager 4.2 software were conducted when possible.
Findings of Literature Review & Analysis
Intravascular ultrasound appears to be a safe tool when used in coronary interventions. Periprocedural complications associated with the use of IVUS in coronary interventions ranged from 0.5% in the largest study to 4%. Coronary rupture was reported in 1 study (1/54). Other complications included prolonged spasms of the artery after stenting, dissection, and femoral aneurysm.
Based on pooled analyses of data from randomized controlled studies, the use of intravascular ultrasound adjunctive to coronary intervention in percutaneous coronary interventions using bare metal stents yielded the following findings:
For lesions predominantly at low risk of restenosis:
There were no significant differences in preintervention angiographic minimal lumen diameter between the IVUS-guided and angiography-guided groups.
IVUS guidance resulted in a significantly larger mean postintervention angiographic minimal lumen diameter (weighted mean difference of 0.11 mm, P = .0003) compared to angiographic guidance alone.
The benefit in angiographic minimal lumen diameter from IVUS guidance was not maintained at 6-month follow-up, when no significant difference in angiographic minimal lumen diameter could be detected between the two arms (weighted mean difference 0.08, P = .13).
There were no statistically significant differences in angiographic binary restenosis rates between IVUS-guidance and no IVUS guidance (Odds ratio [OR] 0.87 in favour of IVUS, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] [0.64–1.18], P = 0.37).
IVUS guidance resulted in a reduction in the odds of target lesion revascularization (repeat percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary bypass graft) compared to angiographic guidance alone. The reduction was statistically significant at a follow-up period of 6 months to 1 year, and at a follow-up period of 18 month to 2 years (OR 0.52 in favour of IVUS, 95% CI [0.33–0.81], P = .004).
Total revascularization rate (either target lesion or target vessel revascularization) was significantly lower for IVUS-guided patients at 18 months to 2.5 years after intervention (OR 0.43 in favour of IVUS, 95% CI [0.29–0.63], p < .0001).
There were no statistically significant differences in the odds of death (OR 1.36 in favour of no IVUS, P =0.65) or myocardial infarction (OR 0.95 in favour of IVUS, P = 0.93) between IVUS-guidance and angiographic guidance alone at up to 2.5 years of follow-up
The odds of having a major cardiac event (defined as death, myocardial infarction, and target lesion or target vessel revascularization) were significantly lower for patients with IVUS guidance compared to angiographic guidance alone during follow-up periods of up to 2.5 years (OR 0.53, 95% CI [0.36–0.78], P = 0.001). Since there were no significant reductions in the odds of death or myocardial infarction, the reduction in the odds of combined events reflected mainly the reduction in revascularization rates.
For lesions at High Risk of Restenosis:
There is evidence from one small, randomized controlled trial (n=150) that IVUS-guided percutaneous coronary intervention in long de novo lesions (>20 mm) of native coronary arteries resulted in statistically significant larger minimal lumen Diameter, and statistically significant lower 6-month angiographic binary restenosis rate. Target vessel revascularization rate and the rate of combined events were also significantly reduced at 12 months.
A small subgroup analysis of a randomized controlled trial reported no benefit in clinical or angiographic outcomes for IVUS-guided percutaneous coronary interventions in patients with diabetes compared to those guided by angiography. However, due to the nature and size of the analysis, no firm conclusions could be reached.
Based on 2 small, prospective, non-randomized controlled studies, IVUS guidance in percutaneous coronary interventions of left main coronary lesions using bare metal stents or drug-eluting stents did not result in any benefits in angiographic or clinical outcomes. These findings need to be confirmed.
Interventions Using Drug-Eluting Stents
There is presently no evidence on whether the addition of IVUS guidance during the implantation of drug-eluting stents would reduce incomplete stent apposition, or improve the angiographic or clinical outcomes of patients.
Ontario-Based Economic Analysis
Cost-effectiveness analysis showed that PCIs using IVUS guidance would likely be less costly and more effective than PCIs without IVUS guidance. The upfront cost of adjunctive use of IVUS in PCIs ranged from $1.56 million at 6% uptake to $13.04 million at 50% uptake. Taking into consideration cost avoidance from reduction in revascularization associated with the use of IVUS, a net saving of $0.63 million to $5.2 million is expected. However, since it is uncertain whether the reduction in revascularization rate resulting from the use of IVUS can be generalized to clinical settings in Ontario, further analysis on the budget impact and cost-effectiveness need to be conducted once Ontario-specific revascularization rates are verified.
Factors to be Considered in the Ontario Context
Applicability of Findings to Ontario
The interim analysis of an Ontario field evaluation that compared drug-eluting stents to bare metal stents showed that the revascularization rates in low-risk patients with bare metal stents were much lower in Ontario compared to rates reported in randomized controlled trials (7.2% vs >17 %). Even though IVUS is presently not routinely used in the stenting of low-risk patients in Ontario, the revascularization rates in these patients in Ontario were shown to be lower than those reported for the IVUS groups reported in published studies. Based on this information and previous findings from the Ontario field evaluation on stenting, it is uncertain whether the reduction in revascularization rates from IVUS guidance can be generalized to Ontario. In light of the above findings, it is advisable to validate the reported benefits of IVUS guidance in percutaneous coronary interventions involving bare metal stents in the Ontario context.
As of January 16, 2006, Health Canada has licensed 10 intravascular ultrasound imaging systems/catheters for transluminal intervention procedures, most as class 4 medical devices.
IVUS is presently not an insured procedure under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and there are no professional fees for this procedure. All costs related to the use of IVUS are covered within hospitals’ global budgets. A single use IVUS catheter costs approximately $900CDN and the procedure adds approximately 20 minutes to 30 minutes to a percutaneous coronary intervention procedure.
According to an expert consultant, current use of IVUS in coronary interventions in Ontario is probably limited to high-risk cases such as interventions in long lesions, small vessels, and bifurcated lesions for which images from coronary angiography are indeterminate. It was estimated that IVUS is being used in about 6% of all percutaneous coronary interventions at a large Ontario cardiac centre.
IVUS greatly enhances the cardiac interventionists’ ability to visualize and assess high-risk lesions such as long lesions, narrow lesions, and bifurcated lesions that may have indeterminate angiographic images. Information from IVUS in these cases facilitates the choice of the most appropriate approach for the intervention.
The use of adjunctive IVUS in PCIs using bare metal stents in lesions predominantly at low risk for restenosis had no significant impact on survival, myocardial infarction, or angiographic restenosis rates up to 2.5 years after intervention.
The use of IVUS adjunctive to coronary angiography in percutaneous coronary interventions using bare metal stents in lesions predominantly at low risk for restenosis significantly reduced the target lesion and target vessel revascularization at a follow-up period of 18 months to 2.5 years.
One small study suggests that adjunctive IVUS in PCIs using bare metal stents in long lesions (>20 mm) significantly improved the 6-month angiographic restenosis rate and one-year target lesion revascularization rate. These results need to be confirmed with large randomized controlled trials.
Based on information from the Ontario field evaluation on stenting, it is uncertain whether the reduction in revascularization rate resulting from the use of IVUS in the placement of bare metal stents can be generalized to clinical settings in Ontario.
There is presently insufficient evidence available to determine the impact of adjunctive IVUS in percutaneous interventions in high-risk lesions (other than long lesions) or in PCIs using drug-eluting stents.