PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (1872662)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability 
Executive Summary
In July 2009, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding different cardiac imaging modalities to ensure that appropriate technologies are accessed by patients undergoing viability assessment. 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 that can be used for the assessment of myocardial viability: positron emission tomography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, dobutamine echocardiography, and dobutamine echocardiography with contrast, and single photon emission computed tomography.
A 2005 review conducted by MAS determined that positron emission tomography was more sensitivity than dobutamine echocardiography and single photon emission tomography and dominated the other imaging modalities from a cost-effective standpoint. However, there was inadequate evidence to compare positron emission tomography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Thus, this report focuses on this comparison only. For both technologies, an economic analysis was also completed.
The Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability 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
Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Objective
The objective of this analysis is to assess the effectiveness and safety of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) for the assessment of myocardial viability. To evaluate the effectiveness of FDG PET viability imaging, the following outcomes are examined:
the diagnostic accuracy of FDG PET for predicting functional recovery;
the impact of PET viability imaging on prognosis (mortality and other patient outcomes); and
the contribution of PET viability imaging to treatment decision making and subsequent patient outcomes.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction and Heart Failure
Heart failure is a complex syndrome characterized by the heart’s inability to maintain adequate blood circulation through the body leading to multiorgan abnormalities and, eventually, death. Patients with heart failure experience poor functional capacity, decreased quality of life, and increased risk of morbidity and mortality.
In 2005, more than 71,000 Canadians died from cardiovascular disease, of which, 54% were due to ischemic heart disease. Left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction due to coronary artery disease (CAD)1 is the primary cause of heart failure accounting for more than 70% of cases. The prevalence of heart failure was estimated at one percent of the Canadian population in 1989. Since then, the increase in the older population has undoubtedly resulted in a substantial increase in cases. Heart failure is associated with a poor prognosis: one-year mortality rates were 32.9% and 31.1% for men and women, respectively in Ontario between 1996 and 1997.
Treatment Options
In general, there are three options for the treatment of heart failure: medical treatment, heart transplantation, and revascularization for those with CAD as the underlying cause. Concerning medical treatment, despite recent advances, mortality remains high among treated patients, while, heart transplantation is affected by the limited availability of donor hearts and consequently has long waiting lists. The third option, revascularization, is used to restore the flow of blood to the heart via coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or through minimally invasive percutaneous coronary interventions (balloon angioplasty and stenting). Both methods, however, are associated with important perioperative risks including mortality, so it is essential to properly select patients for this procedure.
Myocardial Viability
Left ventricular dysfunction may be permanent if a myocardial scar is formed, or it may be reversible after revascularization. Reversible LV dysfunction occurs when the myocardium is viable but dysfunctional (reduced contractility). Since only patients with dysfunctional but viable myocardium benefit from revascularization, the identification and quantification of the extent of myocardial viability is an important part of the work-up of patients with heart failure when determining the most appropriate treatment path. Various non-invasive cardiac imaging modalities can be used to assess patients in whom determination of viability is an important clinical issue, specifically:
dobutamine echocardiography (echo),
stress echo with contrast,
SPECT using either technetium or thallium,
cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cardiac MRI), and
positron emission tomography (PET).
Dobutamine Echocardiography
Stress echocardiography can be used to detect viable myocardium. During the infusion of low dose dobutamine (5 – 10 μg/kg/min), an improvement of contractility in hypokinetic and akentic segments is indicative of the presence of viable myocardium. Alternatively, a low-high dose dobutamine protocol can be used in which a biphasic response characterized by improved contractile function during the low-dose infusion followed by a deterioration in contractility due to stress induced ischemia during the high dose dobutamine infusion (dobutamine dose up to 40 ug/kg/min) represents viable tissue. Newer techniques including echocardiography using contrast agents, harmonic imaging, and power doppler imaging may help to improve the diagnostic accuracy of echocardiographic assessment of myocardial viability.
Stress Echocardiography with Contrast
Intravenous contrast agents, which are high molecular weight inert gas microbubbles that act like red blood cells in the vascular space, can be used during echocardiography to assess myocardial viability. These agents allow for the assessment of myocardial blood flow (perfusion) and contractile function (as described above), as well as the simultaneous assessment of perfusion to make it possible to distinguish between stunned and hibernating myocardium.
SPECT
SPECT can be performed using thallium-201 (Tl-201), a potassium analogue, or technetium-99 m labelled tracers. When Tl-201 is injected intravenously into a patient, it is taken up by the myocardial cells through regional perfusion, and Tl-201 is retained in the cell due to sodium/potassium ATPase pumps in the myocyte membrane. The stress-redistribution-reinjection protocol involves three sets of images. The first two image sets (taken immediately after stress and then three to four hours after stress) identify perfusion defects that may represent scar tissue or viable tissue that is severely hypoperfused. The third set of images is taken a few minutes after the re-injection of Tl-201 and after the second set of images is completed. These re-injection images identify viable tissue if the defects exhibit significant fill-in (> 10% increase in tracer uptake) on the re-injection images.
The other common Tl-201 viability imaging protocol, rest-redistribution, involves SPECT imaging performed at rest five minutes after Tl-201 is injected and again three to four hours later. Viable tissue is identified if the delayed images exhibit significant fill-in of defects identified in the initial scans (> 10% increase in uptake) or if defects are fixed but the tracer activity is greater than 50%.
There are two technetium-99 m tracers: sestamibi (MIBI) and tetrofosmin. The uptake and retention of these tracers is dependent on regional perfusion and the integrity of cellular membranes. Viability is assessed using one set of images at rest and is defined by segments with tracer activity greater than 50%.
Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cardiac MRI) is a non-invasive, x-ray free technique that uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed images of the structure and function of the heart. Two types of cardiac MRI are used to assess myocardial viability: dobutamine stress magnetic resonance imaging (DSMR) and delayed contrast-enhanced cardiac MRI (DE-MRI). DE-MRI, the most commonly used technique in Ontario, uses gadolinium-based contrast agents to define the transmural extent of scar, which can be visualized based on the intensity of the image. Hyper-enhanced regions correspond to irreversibly damaged myocardium. As the extent of hyper-enhancement increases, the amount of scar increases, so there is a lower the likelihood of functional recovery.
Cardiac Positron Emission Tomography
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine technique used to image tissues based on the distinct ways in which normal and abnormal tissues metabolize positron-emitting radionuclides. Radionuclides are radioactive analogs of common physiological substrates such as sugars, amino acids, and free fatty acids that are used by the body. The only licensed radionuclide used in PET imaging for viability assessment is F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG).
During a PET scan, the radionuclides are injected into the body and as they decay, they emit positively charged particles (positrons) that travel several millimetres into tissue and collide with orbiting electrons. This collision results in annihilation where the combined mass of the positron and electron is converted into energy in the form of two 511 keV gamma rays, which are then emitted in opposite directions (180 degrees) and captured by an external array of detector elements in the PET gantry. Computer software is then used to convert the radiation emission into images. The system is set up so that it only detects coincident gamma rays that arrive at the detectors within a predefined temporal window, while single photons arriving without a pair or outside the temporal window do not active the detector. This allows for increased spatial and contrast resolution.
Evidence-Based Analysis
Research Questions
What is the diagnostic accuracy of PET for detecting myocardial viability?
What is the prognostic value of PET viability imaging (mortality and other clinical outcomes)?
What is the contribution of PET viability imaging to treatment decision making?
What is the safety of PET viability imaging?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 17, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2004 to July 16, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. In addition, published systematic reviews and health technology assessments were reviewed for relevant studies published before 2004. Reference lists of included studies were also examined for any additional relevant studies not already identified. The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
Criteria applying to diagnostic accuracy studies, prognosis studies, and physician decision-making studies:
English language full-reports
Health technology assessments, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and observational studies
Patients with chronic, known CAD
PET imaging using FDG for the purpose of detecting viable myocardium
Criteria applying to diagnostic accuracy studies:
Assessment of functional recovery ≥3 months after revascularization
Raw data available to calculate sensitivity and specificity
Gold standard: prediction of global or regional functional recovery
Criteria applying to prognosis studies:
Mortality studies that compare revascularized patients with non-revascularized patients and patients with viable and non-viable myocardium
Exclusion Criteria
Criteria applying to diagnostic accuracy studies, prognosis studies, and physician decision-making studies:
PET perfusion imaging
< 20 patients
< 18 years of age
Patients with non-ischemic heart disease
Animal or phantom studies
Studies focusing on the technical aspects of PET
Studies conducted exclusively in patients with acute myocardial infarction (MI)
Duplicate publications
Criteria applying to diagnostic accuracy studies
Gold standard other than functional recovery (e.g., PET or cardiac MRI)
Assessment of functional recovery occurs before patients are revascularized
Outcomes of Interest
Diagnostic accuracy studies
Sensitivity and specificity
Positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV)
Positive and negative likelihood ratios
Diagnostic accuracy
Adverse events
Prognosis studies
Mortality rate
Functional status
Exercise capacity
Quality of Life
Influence on PET viability imaging on physician decision making
Statistical Methods
Pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity were calculated using a bivariate, binomial generalized linear mixed model. Statistical significance was defined by P values less than 0.05, where “false discovery rate” adjustments were made for multiple hypothesis testing. Using the bivariate model parameters, summary receiver operating characteristic (sROC) curves were produced. The area under the sROC curve was estimated by numerical integration with a cubic spline (default option). Finally, pooled estimates of mortality rates were calculated using weighted means.
Quality of Evidence
The quality of evidence assigned to individual diagnostic studies was determined using the QUADAS tool, a list of 14 questions that address internal and external validity, bias, and generalizibility of diagnostic accuracy studies. Each question is scored as “yes”, “no”, or “unclear”. The quality of the body of evidence was then assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
A total of 40 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review: one health technology assessment, two systematic reviews, 22 observational diagnostic accuracy studies, and 16 prognosis studies. The available PET viability imaging literature addresses two questions: 1) what is the diagnostic accuracy of PET imaging for the assessment; and 2) what is the prognostic value of PET viability imaging. The diagnostic accuracy studies use regional or global functional recovery as the reference standard to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the technology. While regional functional recovery was most commonly used in the studies, global functional recovery is more important clinically. Due to differences in reporting and thresholds, however, it was not possible to pool global functional recovery.
Functional recovery, however, is a surrogate reference standard for viability and consequently, the diagnostic accuracy results may underestimate the specificity of PET viability imaging. For example, regional functional recovery may take up to a year after revascularization depending on whether it is stunned or hibernating tissue, while many of the studies looked at regional functional recovery 3 to 6 months after revascularization. In addition, viable tissue may not recover function after revascularization due to graft patency or re-stenosis. Both issues may lead to false positives and underestimate specificity. Given these limitations, the prognostic value of PET viability imaging provides the most direct and clinically useful information. This body of literature provides evidence on the comparative effectiveness of revascularization and medical therapy in patients with viable myocardium and patients without viable myocardium. In addition, the literature compares the impact of PET-guided treatment decision making with SPECT-guided or standard care treatment decision making on survival and cardiac events (including cardiac mortality, MI, hospital stays, unintended revascularization, etc).
The main findings from the diagnostic accuracy and prognosis evidence are:
Based on the available very low quality evidence, PET is a useful imaging modality for the detection of viable myocardium. The pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity for the prediction of regional functional recovery as a surrogate for viable myocardium are 91.5% (95% CI, 88.2% – 94.9%) and 67.8% (95% CI, 55.8% – 79.7%), respectively.
Based the available very low quality of evidence, an indirect comparison of pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity showed no statistically significant difference in the diagnostic accuracy of PET viability imaging for regional functional recovery using perfusion/metabolism mismatch with FDG PET plus either a PET or SPECT perfusion tracer compared with metabolism imaging with FDG PET alone.
FDG PET + PET perfusion metabolism mismatch: sensitivity, 89.9% (83.5% – 96.4%); specificity, 78.3% (66.3% – 90.2%);
FDG PET + SPECT perfusion metabolism mismatch: sensitivity, 87.2% (78.0% – 96.4%); specificity, 67.1% (48.3% – 85.9%);
FDG PET metabolism: sensitivity, 94.5% (91.0% – 98.0%); specificity, 66.8% (53.2% – 80.3%).
Given these findings, further higher quality studies are required to determine the comparative effectiveness and clinical utility of metabolism and perfusion/metabolism mismatch viability imaging with PET.
Based on very low quality of evidence, patients with viable myocardium who are revascularized have a lower mortality rate than those who are treated with medical therapy. Given the quality of evidence, however, this estimate of effect is uncertain so further higher quality studies in this area should be undertaken to determine the presence and magnitude of the effect.
While revascularization may reduce mortality in patients with viable myocardium, current moderate quality RCT evidence suggests that PET-guided treatment decisions do not result in statistically significant reductions in mortality compared with treatment decisions based on SPECT or standard care protocols. The PARR II trial by Beanlands et al. found a significant reduction in cardiac events (a composite outcome that includes cardiac deaths, MI, or hospital stay for cardiac cause) between the adherence to PET recommendations subgroup and the standard care group (hazard ratio, .62; 95% confidence intervals, 0.42 – 0.93; P = .019); however, this post-hoc sub-group analysis is hypothesis generating and higher quality studies are required to substantiate these findings.
The use of FDG PET plus SPECT to determine perfusion/metabolism mismatch to assess myocardial viability increases the radiation exposure compared with FDG PET imaging alone or FDG PET combined with PET perfusion imaging (total-body effective dose: FDG PET, 7 mSv; FDG PET plus PET perfusion tracer, 7.6 – 7.7 mSV; FDG PET plus SPECT perfusion tracer, 16 – 25 mSv). While the precise risk attributed to this increased exposure is unknown, there is increasing concern regarding lifetime multiple exposures to radiation-based imaging modalities, although the incremental lifetime risk for patients who are older or have a poor prognosis may not be as great as for healthy individuals.
PMCID: PMC3377573  PMID: 23074393
2.  Added value of cost-utility analysis in simple diagnostic studies of accuracy: 18F-fluoromethylcholine PET/CT in prostate cancer staging 
Diagnostic studies of accuracy targeting sensitivity and specificity are commonly done in a paired design in which all modalities are applied in each patient, whereas cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses are usually assessed either directly alongside to or indirectly by means of stochastic modeling based on larger randomized controlled trials (RCTs). However the conduct of RCTs is hampered in an environment such as ours, in which technology is rapidly evolving. As such, there is a relatively limited number of RCTs. Therefore, we investigated as to which extent paired diagnostic studies of accuracy can be also used to shed light on economic implications when considering a new diagnostic test. We propose a simple decision tree model-based cost-utility analysis of a diagnostic test when compared to the current standard procedure and exemplify this approach with published data from lymph node staging of prostate cancer. Average procedure costs were taken from the Danish Diagnosis Related Groups Tariff in 2013 and life expectancy was estimated for an ideal 60 year old patient based on prostate cancer stage and prostatectomy or radiation and chemotherapy. Quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) were deduced from the literature, and an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was used to compare lymph node dissection with respective histopathological examination (reference standard) and 18F-fluoromethylcholine positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FCH-PET/CT). Lower bounds of sensitivity and specificity of FCH-PET/CT were established at which the replacement of the reference standard by FCH-PET/CT comes with a trade-off between worse effectiveness and lower costs. Compared to the reference standard in a diagnostic accuracy study, any imperfections in accuracy of a diagnostic test imply that replacing the reference standard generates a loss in effectiveness and utility. We conclude that diagnostic studies of accuracy can be put to a more extensive use, over and above a mere indication of sensitivity and specificity of an imaging test, and that health economic considerations should be undertaken when planning a prospective diagnostic accuracy study. These endeavors will prove especially fruitful when comparing several imaging techniques with one another, or the same imaging technique using different tracers, with an independent reference standard for the evaluation of results.
PMCID: PMC4396007  PMID: 25973339
Diagnostic study; accuracy study; sensitivity; specificity; cost-effectiveness; molecular imaging; positron-emission tomography/computed tomography; 18F-fluoromethylcholine; prostate cancer; staging
3.  123I-Mibg scintigraphy and 18F-Fdg-Pet imaging for diagnosing neuroblastoma 
Background
Neuroblastoma is an embryonic tumour of childhood that originates in the neural crest. It is the second most common extracranial malignant solid tumour of childhood.
Neuroblastoma cells have the unique capacity to accumulate Iodine-123-metaiodobenzylguanidine (123I-MIBG), which can be used for imaging the tumour. Moreover, 123I-MIBG scintigraphy is not only important for the diagnosis of neuroblastoma, but also for staging and localization of skeletal lesions. If these are present, MIBG follow-up scans are used to assess the patient's response to therapy. However, the sensitivity and specificity of 123I-MIBG scintigraphy to detect neuroblastoma varies according to the literature.
Prognosis, treatment and response to therapy of patients with neuroblastoma are currently based on extension scoring of 123I-MIBG scans. Due to its clinical use and importance, it is necessary to determine the exact diagnostic accuracy of 123I-MIBG scintigraphy. In case the tumour is not MIBG avid, fluorine-18-fluorodeoxy-glucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) is often used and the diagnostic accuracy of this test should also be assessed.
Objectives
Primary objectives:
1.1 To determine the diagnostic accuracy of 123I-MIBG (single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), with or without computed tomography (CT)) scintigraphy for detecting a neuroblastoma and its metastases at first diagnosis or at recurrence in children from 0 to 18 years old.
1.2 To determine the diagnostic accuracy of negative 123I-MIBG scintigraphy in combination with 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging for detecting a neuroblastoma and its metastases at first diagnosis or at recurrence in children from 0 to 18 years old, i.e. an add-on test.
Secondary objectives:
2.1 To determine the diagnostic accuracy of 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging for detecting a neuroblastoma and its metastases at first diagnosis or at recurrence in children from 0 to 18 years old.
2.2 To compare the diagnostic accuracy of 123I-MIBG (SPECT-CT) and 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging for detecting a neuroblastoma and its metastases at first diagnosis or at recurrence in children from 0 to 18 years old. This was performed within and between included studies. 123I-MIBG (SPECT-CT) scintigraphy was the comparator test in this case.
Search methods
We searched the databases of MEDLINE/PubMed (1945 to 11 September 2012) and EMBASE/Ovid (1980 to 11 September 2012) for potentially relevant articles. Also we checked the reference lists of relevant articles and review articles, scanned conference proceedings and searched for unpublished studies by contacting researchers involved in this area.
Selection criteria
We included studies of a cross-sectional design or cases series of proven neuroblastoma, either retrospective or prospective, if they compared the results of 123I-MIBG (SPECT-CT) scintigraphy or 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging, or both, with the reference standards or with each other. Studies had to be primary diagnostic and report on children aged between 0 to 18 years old with a neuroblastoma of any stage at first diagnosis or at recurrence.
Data collection and analysis
One review author performed the initial screening of identified references. Two review authors independently performed the study selection, extracted data and assessed the methodological quality.
We used data from two-by-two tables, describing at least the number of patients with a true positive test and the number of patients with a false negative test, to calculate the sensitivity, and if possible, the specificity for each included study.
If possible, we generated forest plots showing estimates of sensitivity and specificity together with 95% confidence intervals.
Main results
Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Ten studies reported data on patient level: the scan was positive or negative. One study reported on all single lesions (lesion level). The sensitivity of 123I-MIBG (SPECT-CT) scintigraphy (objective 1.1), determined in 608 of 621 eligible patients included in the 11 studies, varied from 67% to 100%. One study, that reported on a lesion level, provided data to calculate the specificity: 68% in 115 lesions in 22 patients. The sensitivity of 123I-MIBG scintigraphy for detecting metastases separately from the primary tumour in patients with all neuroblastoma stages ranged from 79% to 100% in three studies and the specificity ranged from 33% to 89% for two of these studies.
One study reported on the diagnostic accuracy of 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging (add-on test) in patients with negative 123I-MIBG scintigraphy (objective 1.2). Two of the 24 eligible patients with proven neuroblastoma had a negative 123I-MIBG scan and a positive 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) scan.
The sensitivity of 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging as a single diagnostic test (objective 2.1) and compared to 123I-MIBG (SPECT-CT) (objective 2.2) was only reported in one study. The sensitivity of 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging was 100% versus 92% of 123I-MIBG (SPECT-CT) scintigraphy. We could not calculate the specificity for both modalities.
Authors' conclusions
The reported sensitivities of 123-I MIBG scintigraphy for the detection of neuroblastoma and its metastases ranged from 67 to 100% in patients with histologically proven neuroblastoma.
Only one study in this review reported on false positive findings. It is important to keep in mind that false positive findings can occur. For example, physiological uptake should be ruled out, by using SPECT-CT scans, although more research is needed before definitive conclusions can be made.
As described both in the literature and in this review, in about 10% of the patients with histologically proven neuroblastoma the tumour does not accumulate 123I-MIBG (false negative results). For these patients, it is advisable to perform an additional test for staging and assess response to therapy. Additional tests might for example be 18F-FDG-PET(-CT), but to be certain of its clinical value, more evidence is needed.
The diagnostic accuracy of 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging in case of a negative 123I-MIBG scintigraphy could not be calculated, because only very limited data were available. Also the detection of the diagnostic accuracy of index test 18F-FDG-PET(-CT) imaging for detecting a neuroblastoma tumour and its metastases, and to compare this to comparator test 123I-MIBG (SPECT-CT) scintigraphy, could not be calculated because of the limited available data at time of this search.
At the start of this project, we did not expect to find only very limited data on specificity. We now consider it would have been more appropriate to use the term "the sensitivity to assess the presence of neuroblastoma" instead of "diagnostic accuracy" for the objectives.
PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY
123I-MIBG- and 18F-FDG-PET-imaging, two nuclear imaging methods for diagnosing neuroblastoma tumours
Background and rationale
Neuroblastoma is a childhood tumour that can be visualized by a specific nuclear imaging compound, called metaiodobenzylguanidine (123I -MIBG). 123I-MIBG-imaging is not only important for the diagnosis of neuroblastoma, but also for localization of metastases (spread of the disease to other organs). Sometimes, the neuroblastoma does not take up 123I-MIBG and as a result the neuroblastoma is not visible on the scan. In that case, another type of nuclear imaging might be useful to visualize the neuroblastoma: fluoro-deoxy-glucose – positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET)-imaging.
In the literature the ability to discriminate between neuroblastoma and non-neuroblastoma lesions for these two types of nuclear imaging methods vary.
Prognosis, treatment and response to therapy of patients with neuroblastoma are currently based on scoring the amount of metastases per body segment visible on 123I-MIBG scans. Therefore, it is important to determine the exact ability to discriminate between neuroblastoma and non-neuroblastoma on 123I-MIBG-imaging and 18F-FDG-PET-imaging. We reviewed the evidence about the accuracy of 123I-MIBG-imaging and 18F-FDG-PET-imaging for the detection of a neuroblastoma in children suspected of this disease.
Study characteristics
We searched scientific databases for clinical studies comparing 123I-MIBG or 18F-FDG-PET imaging, or both, with microscopic examination of tissue suspected of neuroblastoma (histopathology). The evidence is current up to 11 September 2012.
We identified 11 eligible studies including 621 children that fulfilled our inclusion criteria: children < 18 years old with a neuroblastoma and 123I-MIBG or 18F-FDG-PET imaging or both.
All studies included proven neuroblastoma.
Quality of the evidence
All 11 included studies had methodological limitations. Only one included study provided data on specificity (the ability of a test to correctly classify an individual as 'disease-free') and therefore we could not perform all of the planned analyses.
Key results
When compared to histopathological results the sensitivity (the ability of a test to correctly classify an individual person as 'diseased') of 123I-MIBG imaging varied from 67% to 100% in patients with histologically proven neuroblastoma. This means that in 100 children with proven neuroblastoma 123I-MIBG imaging will correctly identify 67 to 100 of the neuroblastoma cases. Only one study, that reported on a lesion level, provided data to calculate the specificity (the ability of a test to correctly classify an individual as 'disease-free'): 68% in 115 lesions. This means that of 100 disease-free lesions in patients with proven neuroblastoma 123I-MIBG imaging will correctly identify 68 lesions. So, in about 10% of the cases the neuroblastoma is not visible on 123I-MIBG imaging (false negative results). For these cases, it is advisable to perform an additional test like 18F-FDG-PET imaging, but to be certain of its clinical value, more evidence is needed.
Only one included study reported on false positive findings. This means that 123I-MIBG imaging and 18F-FDG-PET imaging incorrectly identified neuroblastoma lesions in patients which might result in wrongly classifying a patient with metastatic disease. It is important to keep in mind that false positive findings can occur, although more research is needed before definitive conclusions can be made.
We could not determine the diagnostic accuracy of 18F-FDG-PET imaging, in case the neuroblastoma was incorrectly not identified with 123I-MIBG, due to limited data. Also, we could not calculate the diagnostic accuracy of 18F-FDG-PET imaging for detecting a neuroblastoma and compare this to 123I-MIBG imaging because of the limited available data.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009263.pub2
PMCID: PMC4621955  PMID: 26417712
4.  Experimental Treatment with Favipiravir for Ebola Virus Disease (the JIKI Trial): A Historically Controlled, Single-Arm Proof-of-Concept Trial in Guinea 
Sissoko, Daouda | Laouenan, Cedric | Folkesson, Elin | M’Lebing, Abdoul-Bing | Beavogui, Abdoul-Habib | Baize, Sylvain | Camara, Alseny-Modet | Maes, Piet | Shepherd, Susan | Danel, Christine | Carazo, Sara | Conde, Mamoudou N. | Gala, Jean-Luc | Colin, Géraldine | Savini, Hélène | Bore, Joseph Akoi | Le Marcis, Frederic | Koundouno, Fara Raymond | Petitjean, Frédéric | Lamah, Marie-Claire | Diederich, Sandra | Tounkara, Alexis | Poelart, Geertrui | Berbain, Emmanuel | Dindart, Jean-Michel | Duraffour, Sophie | Lefevre, Annabelle | Leno, Tamba | Peyrouset, Olivier | Irenge, Léonid | Bangoura, N’Famara | Palich, Romain | Hinzmann, Julia | Kraus, Annette | Barry, Thierno Sadou | Berette, Sakoba | Bongono, André | Camara, Mohamed Seto | Chanfreau Munoz, Valérie | Doumbouya, Lanciné | Souley Harouna,  | Kighoma, Patient Mumbere | Koundouno, Fara Roger | Réné Lolamou,  | Loua, Cécé Moriba | Massala, Vincent | Moumouni, Kinda | Provost, Célia | Samake, Nenefing | Sekou, Conde | Soumah, Abdoulaye | Arnould, Isabelle | Komano, Michel Saa | Gustin, Lina | Berutto, Carlotta | Camara, Diarra | Camara, Fodé Saydou | Colpaert, Joliene | Delamou, Léontine | Jansson, Lena | Kourouma, Etienne | Loua, Maurice | Malme, Kristian | Manfrin, Emma | Maomou, André | Milinouno, Adele | Ombelet, Sien | Sidiboun, Aboubacar Youla | Verreckt, Isabelle | Yombouno, Pauline | Bocquin, Anne | Carbonnelle, Caroline | Carmoi, Thierry | Frange, Pierre | Mely, Stéphane | Nguyen, Vinh-Kim | Pannetier, Delphine | Taburet, Anne-Marie | Treluyer, Jean-Marc | Kolie, Jacques | Moh, Raoul | Gonzalez, Minerva Cervantes | Kuisma, Eeva | Liedigk, Britta | Ngabo, Didier | Rudolf, Martin | Thom, Ruth | Kerber, Romy | Gabriel, Martin | Di Caro, Antonino | Wölfel, Roman | Badir, Jamal | Bentahir, Mostafa | Deccache, Yann | Dumont, Catherine | Durant, Jean-François | El Bakkouri, Karim | Gasasira Uwamahoro, Marie | Smits, Benjamin | Toufik, Nora | Van Cauwenberghe, Stéphane | Ezzedine, Khaled | Dortenzio, Eric | Pizarro, Louis | Etienne, Aurélie | Guedj, Jérémie | Fizet, Alexandra | Barte de Sainte Fare, Eric | Murgue, Bernadette | Tran-Minh, Tuan | Rapp, Christophe | Piguet, Pascal | Poncin, Marc | Draguez, Bertrand | Allaford Duverger, Thierry | Barbe, Solenne | Baret, Guillaume | Defourny, Isabelle | Carroll, Miles | Raoul, Hervé | Augier, Augustin | Eholie, Serge P. | Yazdanpanah, Yazdan | Levy-Marchal, Claire | Antierrens, Annick | Van Herp, Michel | Günther, Stephan | de Lamballerie, Xavier | Keïta, Sakoba | Mentre, France | Anglaret, Xavier | Malvy, Denis
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(3):e1001967.
Background
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a highly lethal condition for which no specific treatment has proven efficacy. In September 2014, while the Ebola outbreak was at its peak, the World Health Organization released a short list of drugs suitable for EVD research. Favipiravir, an antiviral developed for the treatment of severe influenza, was one of these. In late 2014, the conditions for starting a randomized Ebola trial were not fulfilled for two reasons. One was the perception that, given the high number of patients presenting simultaneously and the very high mortality rate of the disease, it was ethically unacceptable to allocate patients from within the same family or village to receive or not receive an experimental drug, using a randomization process impossible to understand by very sick patients. The other was that, in the context of rumors and distrust of Ebola treatment centers, using a randomized design at the outset might lead even more patients to refuse to seek care.
Therefore, we chose to conduct a multicenter non-randomized trial, in which all patients would receive favipiravir along with standardized care. The objectives of the trial were to test the feasibility and acceptability of an emergency trial in the context of a large Ebola outbreak, and to collect data on the safety and effectiveness of favipiravir in reducing mortality and viral load in patients with EVD. The trial was not aimed at directly informing future guidelines on Ebola treatment but at quickly gathering standardized preliminary data to optimize the design of future studies.
Methods and Findings
Inclusion criteria were positive Ebola virus reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) test, age ≥ 1 y, weight ≥ 10 kg, ability to take oral drugs, and informed consent. All participants received oral favipiravir (day 0: 6,000 mg; day 1 to day 9: 2,400 mg/d). Semi-quantitative Ebola virus RT-PCR (results expressed in “cycle threshold” [Ct]) and biochemistry tests were performed at day 0, day 2, day 4, end of symptoms, day 14, and day 30. Frozen samples were shipped to a reference biosafety level 4 laboratory for RNA viral load measurement using a quantitative reference technique (genome copies/milliliter). Outcomes were mortality, viral load evolution, and adverse events. The analysis was stratified by age and Ct value. A “target value” of mortality was defined a priori for each stratum, to guide the interpretation of interim and final analysis.
Between 17 December 2014 and 8 April 2015, 126 patients were included, of whom 111 were analyzed (adults and adolescents, ≥13 y, n = 99; young children, ≤6 y, n = 12). Here we present the results obtained in the 99 adults and adolescents. Of these, 55 had a baseline Ct value ≥ 20 (Group A Ct ≥ 20), and 44 had a baseline Ct value < 20 (Group A Ct < 20). Ct values and RNA viral loads were well correlated, with Ct = 20 corresponding to RNA viral load = 7.7 log10 genome copies/ml. Mortality was 20% (95% CI 11.6%–32.4%) in Group A Ct ≥ 20 and 91% (95% CI 78.8%–91.1%) in Group A Ct < 20. Both mortality 95% CIs included the predefined target value (30% and 85%, respectively). Baseline serum creatinine was ≥110 μmol/l in 48% of patients in Group A Ct ≥ 20 (≥300 μmol/l in 14%) and in 90% of patients in Group A Ct < 20 (≥300 μmol/l in 44%). In Group A Ct ≥ 20, 17% of patients with baseline creatinine ≥110 μmol/l died, versus 97% in Group A Ct < 20. In patients who survived, the mean decrease in viral load was 0.33 log10 copies/ml per day of follow-up. RNA viral load values and mortality were not significantly different between adults starting favipiravir within <72 h of symptoms compared to others. Favipiravir was well tolerated.
Conclusions
In the context of an outbreak at its peak, with crowded care centers, randomizing patients to receive either standard care or standard care plus an experimental drug was not felt to be appropriate. We did a non-randomized trial. This trial reaches nuanced conclusions. On the one hand, we do not conclude on the efficacy of the drug, and our conclusions on tolerance, although encouraging, are not as firm as they could have been if we had used randomization. On the other hand, we learned about how to quickly set up and run an Ebola trial, in close relationship with the community and non-governmental organizations; we integrated research into care so that it improved care; and we generated knowledge on EVD that is useful to further research. Our data illustrate the frequency of renal dysfunction and the powerful prognostic value of low Ct values. They suggest that drug trials in EVD should systematically stratify analyses by baseline Ct value, as a surrogate of viral load. They also suggest that favipiravir monotherapy merits further study in patients with medium to high viremia, but not in those with very high viremia.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02329054
In the context the recent Ebola outbreak, Xavier Anglaret and colleagues test an experimental treatment, favipiravir, for Ebola virus disease in a multicenter non-randomized trial.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2014 and 2015, an Ebola virus outbreak larger than any known before occurred in West Africa. Ebola virus disease (EVD) is highly contagious, and many infected people die. Central to the emergency response to the recent outbreak were local Ebola treatment centers where patients were diagnosed, were isolated, and received supportive care. With thousands of patients dying and many health workers contracting the disease, fear was ubiquitous and distrust abundant. While conducting research in this environment was extremely challenging, the urgent need for treatments and the opportunity to conduct studies that could bring such treatments closer to reality was also recognized. In September 2014, WHO released a short list of existing drugs that were candidates for clinical trials among patients infected in the outbreak. Favipiravir, an antiviral drug developed in Japan for patients with severe influenza, was on the list.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because of the urgent need to find drugs that could reduce deaths caused by Ebola, the researchers decided to conduct a clinical trial using favipiravir in patients with EVD in Guinea. In view of the circumstances, they decided against a randomized controlled trial and instead designed a study where all participants would receive the same treatment. In randomized controlled trials only some participants receive the treatment in addition to standard care, while others serve as a control group and receive standard care only, or standard care plus a placebo. Such studies allow stronger conclusions to be drawn about whether a treatment is safe and whether it works or not. The researchers had two main reasons for this decision. First, patients from the same family or village often sought EVD treatment at the same time, and the researchers felt that it was ethically unacceptable to randomize such groups, with only some of them receiving the experimental drug. Second, the strict isolation procedures imposed to interrupt virus transmission had intensified fear in affected communities and fueled rumors of illicit drug experimentation and organ theft at the treatment centers. In this context, the researchers worried that a randomized study might increase distrust among the community and the reluctance of patients to seek care.
Rather than seeking definitive answers about the safety and efficacy of favipiravir in patients with EVD, the objectives of the study as it was designed were to test the feasibility and acceptability of an emergency trial in the context of a large Ebola outbreak and to learn lessons from the experience. In addition, the researchers planned to collect data on the safety and effectiveness of favipiravir in reducing mortality and viral load in patients with EVD in the hope that their preliminary findings could improve the design of subsequent trials and the chance to provide conclusive answers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
After 13 weeks of preparation, the trial took place from December 2014 to April 2015 at four separate Ebola treatment centers, three in rural areas and one in an urban setting. In addition to standard care (which included rehydration, antimalarial and antibacterial therapies, and medication to reduce fever, pain, and nausea), all participants were given favipiravir by mouth for ten days, at doses substantially higher than those recommended for patients with influenza. Outcomes measured were mortality, viral load changes over time (based on blood samples), and adverse events.
EVD was confirmed with an assay that used patient blood and provided an estimate of the viral load, that is, of how much virus the blood contained. Because viral load was known to influence the course of EVD, the researchers analyzed the participants in two groups, namely, those with a viral load estimate above a certain threshold and those with viral load estimate below the threshold. They also used existing data from Guinean patients diagnosed with Ebola earlier in the outbreak who had received only standard care and calculated an expected mortality rate for patients above and below the viral load threshold.
The researchers were able to enroll 126 participants in the trial. Of these, 111 were included in the final analysis. Of 99 adult and adolescent participants 13 years and older, 55 were in the lower viral load group and 44 in the higher viral load group. Mortality was 20% in the former and 91% in the latter. Neither mortality rate was significantly different from that of earlier patients who had received only standard care. The researchers also found that favipiravir was well tolerated. None of the patients stopped the course of treatment, vomiting following drug intake was rare, and no severe adverse events were attributed to the drug. The researchers did not see a difference in mortality between patients who reported onset of symptoms less than three days before the start of treatment and those whose symptoms had started more than three days the start of treatment.
What Do these Findings Mean?
The report shows that it is possible to conduct an emergency trial during an outbreak in a low-resource setting. In fact, at the time of its acceptance, this paper reported on an Ebola treatment trial larger than any other yet published. The experience described should be useful for similar undertakings in the future. The following conditions contributed to the success of the trial: close collaboration between researchers, local health officials, and affected communities on one hand, and flexibility in design, conduct, and analysis based on close monitoring and interim assessments on the other. Besides using interim results to influence the conduct and analysis of their own trial, the researchers also shared these results with the scientific community in real time, and this feedback influenced other research during the outbreak.
The trial could not answer definitively whether favipiravir treatment was safe or reduced mortality in patients with EVD. The results suggest that the drug is unlikely to be beneficial for patients with very high viral loads, at least when given by itself. They also suggest that favipiravir is safe in patients with lower viral loads, and that in such patients additional efficacy studies are warranted. Intermediate analysis of various measurements in trial participants showed that the estimate of viral load from the field EVD diagnosis test is a good proxy for the actual viral load (determined after the samples were shipped to and analyzed in a reference laboratory in France) and suitable as a surrogate marker. The results also confirm that viral load is a strong predictor of mortality.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001967.
The World Health Organization has pages on Ebola virus disease, trials of Ebola treatments and vaccines, and the current update of the list of suitable drugs for testing or use in patients infected with Ebola (originally compiled in September 2014)
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also has information on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001967
PMCID: PMC4773183  PMID: 26930627
5.  Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease 
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 or at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html
Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Stress Echocardiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Stress Echocardiography with Contrast for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
64-Slice Computed Tomographic Angiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
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:
Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
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 single photon emission tomography (SPECT) in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to the reference standard of coronary angiography (CA). The analysis is primarily meant to allow for indirect comparisons between non-invasive strategies for the diagnosis of CAD, using CA as a reference standard.
SPECT
Cardiac SPECT, or myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS), is a widely used nuclear, non-invasive image acquisition technique for investigating ischemic heart disease. SPECT is currently appropriate for all aspects of detecting and managing ischemic heart disease including diagnosis, risk assessment/stratification, assessment of myocardial viability, and the evaluation of left ventricular function. Myocardial perfusion scintigraphy was originally developed as a two-dimensional planar imaging technique, but SPECT acquisition has since become the clinical standard in current practice. Cardiac SPECT for the diagnosis of CAD uses an intravenously administered radiopharmaceutical tracer to evaluate regional coronary blood flow usually at rest and after stress. The radioactive tracers thallium (201Tl) or technetium-99m (99mTc), or both, may be used to visualize the SPECT acquisition. Exercise or a pharmacologic agent is used to achieve stress. After the administration of the tracer, its distribution within the myocardium (which is dependent on myocardial blood flow) is imaged using a gamma camera. In SPECT imaging, the gamma camera rotates around the patients for 10 to 20 minutes so that multiple two-dimensional projections are acquired from various angles. The raw data are then processed using computational algorithms to obtain three-dimensional tomographic images.
Since its inception, SPECT has evolved and its techniques/applications have become increasingly more complex and numerous. Accordingly, new techniques such as attenuation correction and ECG gating have been developed to correct for attenuation due to motion or soft-tissue artifact and to improve overall image clarity.
Research Questions
What is the diagnostic accuracy of SPECT for the diagnosis of CAD compared to the reference standard of CA?
Is SPECT cost-effective compared to other non-invasive cardiac imaging modalities for the diagnosis of CAD?
What are the major safety concerns with SPECT when used for the diagnosis of CAD?
Methods
A preliminary literature search was performed across OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for all systematic reviews/meta-analysis published between January 1, 2004 and August 22, 2009. A comprehensive systematic review was identified from this search and used as a basis for an updated search.
A second comprehensive literature search was then performed on October 30, 2009 across the same databases for studies published between January 1, 2002 and October 30, 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 hand-searched for any additional studies.
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, controlled clinical trials, and observational studies
Minimum sample size of 20 patients who completed coronary angiography
Use of CA as a reference standard for the diagnosis of CAD
Data available to calculate true positives (TP), false positives (FP), false negatives (FN) and true negatives (TN)
Accuracy data reported by patient not by segment
English language
Non-systematic reviews, case reports
Grey literature and abstracts
Trials using planar imaging only
Trials conducted in patients with non-ischemic heart disease
Studies done exclusively in special populations (e.g., patients with left branch bundle block, diabetics, minority populations) unless insufficient data available
Summary of Findings
Eighty-four observational studies, one non-randomized, single arm controlled clinical trial, and one poorly reported trial that appeared to be a randomized controlled trial (RCT) met the inclusion criteria for this review. All studies assessed the diagnostic accuracy of myocardial perfusion SPECT for the diagnosis of CAD using CA as a reference standard. Based on the results of these studies the following conclusions were made:
According to very low quality evidence, the addition of attenuation correction to traditional or ECG-gated SPECT greatly improves the specificity of SPECT for the diagnosis of CAD although this improvement is not statistically significant. A trend towards improvement of specificity was also observed with the addition of ECG gating to traditional SPECT.
According to very low quality evidence, neither the choice of stress agent (exercise or pharmacologic) nor the choice of radioactive tracer (technetium vs. thallium) significantly affect the diagnostic accuracy of SPECT for the diagnosis of CAD although a trend towards accuracy improvement was observed with the use of pharmacologic stress over exercise stress and technetium over thallium.
Considerably heterogeneity was observed both within and between trials. This heterogeneity may explain why some of the differences observed between accuracy estimates for various subgroups were not statistically significant.
More complex analytic techniques such as meta-regression may help to better understand which study characteristics significantly influence the diagnostic accuracy of SPECT.
PMCID: PMC3377554  PMID: 23074411
6.  Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing for Celiac Disease in Ontario 
Executive Summary
Objective of Analysis
The objective of this evidence-based evaluation is to assess the accuracy of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease. Furthermore the impact of these tests in the diagnostic pathway of the disease and decision making was also evaluated.
Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that develops in genetically predisposed individuals. The immunological response is triggered by ingestion of gluten, a protein that is present in wheat, rye, and barley. The treatment consists of strict lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD).
Patients with celiac disease may present with a myriad of symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis, among others.
Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis Celiac Disease
There are a number of serologic tests used in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibodies (DGP)
Serologic tests are automated with the exception of the EMA test, which is more time-consuming and operator-dependent than the other tests. For each serologic test, both immunoglobulin A (IgA) or G (IgG) can be measured, however, IgA measurement is the standard antibody measured in celiac disease.
Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
According to celiac disease guidelines, the diagnosis of celiac disease is established by small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests are used to initially detect and to support the diagnosis of celiac disease. A small bowel biopsy is indicated in individuals with a positive serologic test. In some cases an endoscopy and small bowel biopsy may be required even with a negative serologic test. The diagnosis of celiac disease must be performed on a gluten-containing diet since the small intestine abnormalities and the serologic antibody levels may resolve or improve on a GFD.
Since IgA measurement is the standard for the serologic celiac disease tests, false negatives may occur in IgA-deficient individuals.
Incidence and Prevalence of Celiac Disease
The incidence and prevalence of celiac disease in the general population and in subjects with symptoms consistent with or at higher risk of celiac disease based on systematic reviews published in 2004 and 2009 are summarized below.
Incidence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
Adults or mixed population: 1 to 17/100,000/year
Children: 2 to 51/100,000/year
In one of the studies, a stratified analysis showed that there was a higher incidence of celiac disease in younger children compared to older children, i.e., 51 cases/100,000/year in 0 to 2 year-olds, 33/100,000/year in 2 to 5 year-olds, and 10/100,000/year in children 5 to 15 years old.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
The prevalence of celiac disease reported in population-based studies identified in the 2004 systematic review varied between 0.14% and 1.87% (median: 0.47%, interquartile range: 0.25%, 0.71%). According to the authors of the review, the prevalence did not vary by age group, i.e., adults and children.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in High Risk Subjects
Type 1 diabetes (adults and children): 1 to 11%
Autoimmune thyroid disease: 2.9 to 3.3%
First degree relatives of patients with celiac disease: 2 to 20%
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Subjects with Symptoms Consistent with the Disease
The prevalence of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with the disease varied widely among studies, i.e., 1.5% to 50% in adult studies, and 1.1% to 17% in pediatric studies. Differences in prevalence may be related to the referral pattern as the authors of a systematic review noted that the prevalence tended to be higher in studies whose population originated from tertiary referral centres compared to general practice.
Research Questions
What is the sensitivity and specificity of serologic tests in the diagnosis celiac disease?
What is the clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical validity was defined as the ability of the test to change diagnosis.
What is the clinical utility of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical utility was defined as the impact of the test on decision making.
What is the budget impact of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
What is the cost-effectiveness of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
Methods
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on November 13th, 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 1st 2003 and November 13th 2010. 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 additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic accuracy, i.e., both sensitivity and specificity of serology tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Study population consisted of untreated patients with symptoms consistent with celiac disease.
Studies in which both serologic celiac disease tests and small bowel biopsy (gold standard) were used in all subjects.
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, and retrospective cohort studies.
At least 20 subjects included in the celiac disease group.
English language.
Human studies.
Studies published from 2000 on.
Clearly defined cut-off value for the serology test. If more than one test was evaluated, only those tests for which a cut-off was provided were included.
Description of small bowel biopsy procedure clearly outlined (location, number of biopsies per patient), unless if specified that celiac disease diagnosis guidelines were followed.
Patients in the treatment group had untreated CD.
Studies on screening of the general asymptomatic population.
Studies that evaluated rapid diagnostic kits for use either at home or in physician’s offices.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic modalities other than serologic tests such as capsule endoscopy, push enteroscopy, or genetic testing.
Cut-off for serologic tests defined based on controls included in the study.
Study population defined based on positive serology or subjects pre-screened by serology tests.
Celiac disease status known before study enrolment.
Sensitivity or specificity estimates based on repeated testing for the same subject.
Non-peer-reviewed literature such as editorials and letters to the editor.
Population
The population consisted of adults and children with untreated, undiagnosed celiac disease with symptoms consistent with the disease.
Serologic Celiac Disease Tests Evaluated
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibody (DGP)
Combinations of some of the serologic tests listed above were evaluated in some studies
Both IgA and IgG antibodies were evaluated for the serologic tests listed above.
Outcomes of Interest
Sensitivity
Specificity
Positive and negative likelihood ratios
Diagnostic odds ratio (OR)
Area under the sROC curve (AUC)
Small bowel biopsy was used as the gold standard in order to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of each serologic test.
Statistical Analysis
Pooled estimates of sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic odds ratios (DORs) for the different serologic tests were calculated using a bivariate, binomial generalized linear mixed model. Statistical significance for differences in sensitivity and specificity between serologic tests was defined by P values less than 0.05, where “false discovery rate” adjustments were made for multiple hypothesis testing. The bivariate regression analyses were performed using SAS version 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc.; Cary, NC, USA). Using the bivariate model parameters, summary receiver operating characteristic (sROC) curves were produced using Review Manager 5.0.22 (The Nordiac Cochrane Centre, The Cochrane Collaboration, 2008). The area under the sROC curve (AUC) was estimated by bivariate mixed-efects binary regression modeling framework. Model specification, estimation and prediction are carried out with xtmelogit in Stata release 10 (Statacorp, 2007). Statistical tests for the differences in AUC estimates could not be carried out.
The study results were stratified according to patient or disease characteristics such as age, severity of Marsh grade abnormalities, among others, if reported in the studies. The literature indicates that the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease may be affected in patients with chronic liver disease, therefore, the studies identified through the systematic literature review that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease in patients with chronic liver disease were summarized. The effect of the GFD in patiens diagnosed with celiac disease was also summarized if reported in the studies eligible for the analysis.
Summary of Findings
Published Systematic Reviews
Five systematic reviews of studies that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic celiac disease tests were identified through our literature search. Seventeen individual studies identified in adults and children were eligible for this evaluation.
In general, the studies included evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of at least one serologic test in subjects with symptoms consistent with celiac disease. The gold standard used to confirm the celiac disease diagnosis was small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests evaluated included tTG, EMA, AGA, and DGP, using either IgA or IgG antibodies. Indirect immunoflurorescence was used for the EMA serologic tests whereas enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used for the other serologic tests.
Common symptoms described in the studies were chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, unexplained weight loss, unexplained anemia, and dermatitis herpetiformis.
The main conclusions of the published systematic reviews are summarized below.
IgA tTG and/or IgA EMA have a high accuracy (pooled sensitivity: 90% to 98%, pooled specificity: 95% to 99% depending on the pooled analysis).
Most reviews found that AGA (IgA or IgG) are not as accurate as IgA tTG and/or EMA tests.
A 2009 systematic review concluded that DGP (IgA or IgG) seems to have a similar accuracy compared to tTG, however, since only 2 studies identified evaluated its accuracy, the authors believe that additional data is required to draw firm conclusions.
Two systematic reviews also concluded that combining two serologic celiac disease tests has little contribution to the accuracy of the diagnosis.
MAS Analysis
Sensitivity
The pooled analysis performed by MAS showed that IgA tTG has a sensitivity of 92.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 88.0, 96.3], compared to 89.2% (83.3, 95.1, p=0.12) for IgA DGP, 85.1% (79.5, 94.4, p=0.07) for IgA EMA, and 74.9% (63.6, 86.2, p=0.0003) for IgA AGA. Among the IgG-based tests, the results suggest that IgG DGP has a sensitivity of 88.4% (95% CI: 82.1, 94.6), 44.7% (30.3, 59.2) for tTG, and 69.1% (56.0, 82.2) for AGA. The difference was significant when IgG DGP was compared to IgG tTG but not IgG AGA. Combining serologic celiac disease tests yielded a slightly higher sensitivity compared to individual IgA-based serologic tests.
IgA deficiency
The prevalence of total or severe IgA deficiency was low in the studies identified varying between 0 and 1.7% as reported in 3 studies in which IgA deficiency was not used as a referral indication for celiac disease serologic testing. The results of IgG-based serologic tests were positive in all patients with IgA deficiency in which celiac disease was confirmed by small bowel biopsy as reported in four studies.
Specificity
The MAS pooled analysis indicates a high specificity across the different serologic tests including the combination strategy, pooled estimates ranged from 90.1% to 98.7% depending on the test.
Likelihood Ratios
According to the likelihood ratio estimates, both IgA tTG and serologic test combinationa were considered very useful tests (positive likelihood ratio above ten and the negative likelihood ratio below 0.1).
Moderately useful tests included IgA EMA, IgA DGP, and IgG DGP (positive likelihood ratio between five and ten and the negative likelihood ratio between 0.1 and 0.2).
Somewhat useful tests: IgA AGA, IgG AGA, generating small but sometimes important changes from pre- to post-test probability (positive LR between 2 and 5 and negative LR between 0.2 and 0.5)
Not Useful: IgG tTG, altering pre- to post-test probability to a small and rarely important degree (positive LR between 1 and 2 and negative LR between 0.5 and 1).
Diagnostic Odds Ratios (DOR)
Among the individual serologic tests, IgA tTG had the highest DOR, 136.5 (95% CI: 51.9, 221.2). The statistical significance of the difference in DORs among tests was not calculated, however, considering the wide confidence intervals obtained, the differences may not be statistically significant.
Area Under the sROC Curve (AUC)
The sROC AUCs obtained ranged between 0.93 and 0.99 for most IgA-based tests with the exception of IgA AGA, with an AUC of 0.89.
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Age Groups
Serologic test accuracy did not seem to vary according to age (adults or children).
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Marsh Criteria
Four studies observed a trend towards a higher sensitivity of serologic celiac disease tests when Marsh 3c grade abnormalities were found in the small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3a or 3b (statistical significance not reported). The sensitivity of serologic tests was much lower when Marsh 1 grade abnormalities were found in small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3 grade abnormalities. The statistical significance of these findings were not reported in the studies.
Diagnostic Accuracy of Serologic Celiac Disease Tests in Subjects with Chronic Liver Disease
A total of 14 observational studies that evaluated the specificity of serologic celiac disease tests in subjects with chronic liver disease were identified. All studies evaluated the frequency of false positive results (1-specificity) of IgA tTG, however, IgA tTG test kits using different substrates were used, i.e., human recombinant, human, and guinea-pig substrates. The gold standard, small bowel biopsy, was used to confirm the result of the serologic tests in only 5 studies. The studies do not seem to have been designed or powered to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic celiac disease tests.
The results of the studies identified in the systematic literature review suggest that there is a trend towards a lower frequency of false positive results if the IgA tTG test using human recombinant substrate is used compared to the guinea pig substrate in subjects with chronic liver disease. However, the statistical significance of the difference was not reported in the studies. When IgA tTG with human recombinant substrate was used, the number of false positives seems to be similar to what was estimated in the MAS pooled analysis for IgA-based serologic tests in a general population of patients. These results should be interpreted with caution since most studies did not use the gold standard, small bowel biopsy, to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of celiac disease, and since the studies were not designed to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic tests. The sensitivity of the different serologic tests in patients with chronic liver disease was not evaluated in the studies identified.
Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet (GFD) in Patients Diagnosed with Celiac Disease
Six studies identified evaluated the effects of GFD on clinical, histological, or serologic improvement in patients diagnosed with celiac disease. Improvement was observed in 51% to 95% of the patients included in the studies.
Grading of Evidence
Overall, the quality of the evidence ranged from moderate to very low depending on the serologic celiac disease test. Reasons to downgrade the quality of the evidence included the use of a surrogate endpoint (diagnostic accuracy) since none of the studies evaluated clinical outcomes, inconsistencies among study results, imprecise estimates, and sparse data. The quality of the evidence was considered moderate for IgA tTg and IgA EMA, low for IgA DGP, and serologic test combinations, and very low for IgA AGA.
Clinical Validity and Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
The clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease due to
High accuracy of some serologic tests.
Serologic tests detect possible celiac disease cases and avoid unnecessary small bowel biopsy if the test result is negative, unless an endoscopy/ small bowel biopsy is necessary due to the clinical presentation.
Serologic tests support the results of small bowel biopsy.
The clinical utility of serologic tests for the diagnosis of celiac disease, as defined by its impact in decision making was also considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease given the considerations listed above and since celiac disease diagnosis leads to treatment with a gluten-free diet.
Economic Analysis
A decision analysis was constructed to compare costs and outcomes between the tests based on the sensitivity, specificity and prevalence summary estimates from the MAS Evidence-Based Analysis (EBA). A budget impact was then calculated by multiplying the expected costs and volumes in Ontario. The outcome of the analysis was expected costs and false negatives (FN). Costs were reported in 2010 CAD$. All analyses were performed using TreeAge Pro Suite 2009.
Four strategies made up the efficiency frontier; IgG tTG, IgA tTG, EMA and small bowel biopsy. All other strategies were dominated. IgG tTG was the least costly and least effective strategy ($178.95, FN avoided=0). Small bowel biopsy was the most costly and most effective strategy ($396.60, FN avoided =0.1553). The cost per FN avoided were $293, $369, $1,401 for EMA, IgATTG and small bowel biopsy respectively. One-way sensitivity analyses did not change the ranking of strategies.
All testing strategies with small bowel biopsy are cheaper than biopsy alone however they also result in more FNs. The most cost-effective strategy will depend on the decision makers’ willingness to pay. Findings suggest that IgA tTG was the most cost-effective and feasible strategy based on its Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER) and convenience to conduct the test. The potential impact of IgA tTG test in the province of Ontario would be $10.4M, $11.0M and $11.7M respectively in the following three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
The panel of tests is the commonly used strategy in the province of Ontario therefore the impact to the system would be $13.6M, $14.5M and $15.3M respectively in the next three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
Conclusions
The clinical validity and clinical utility of serologic tests for celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease as they aid in the diagnosis of celiac disease and some tests present a high accuracy.
The study findings suggest that IgA tTG is the most accurate and the most cost-effective test.
AGA test (IgA) has a lower accuracy compared to other IgA-based tests
Serologic test combinations appear to be more costly with little gain in accuracy. In addition there may be problems with generalizability of the results of the studies included in this review if different test combinations are used in clinical practice.
IgA deficiency seems to be uncommon in patients diagnosed with celiac disease.
The generalizability of study results is contingent on performing both the serologic test and small bowel biopsy in subjects on a gluten-containing diet as was the case in the studies identified, since the avoidance of gluten may affect test results.
PMCID: PMC3377499  PMID: 23074399
7.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability 
Executive Summary
In July 2009, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding different cardiac imaging modalities to ensure that appropriate technologies are accessed by patients undergoing viability assessment. 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 noninvasive cardiac imaging modalities.
After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, MAS identified five key non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies that can be used for the assessment of myocardial viability: positron emission tomography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, dobutamine echocardiography, and dobutamine echocardiography with contrast, and single photon emission computed tomography.
A 2005 review conducted by MAS determined that positron emission tomography was more sensitivity than dobutamine echocardiography and single photon emission tomography and dominated the other imaging modalities from a cost-effective standpoint. However, there was inadequate evidence to compare positron emission tomography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Thus, this report focuses on this comparison only. For both technologies, an economic analysis was also completed.
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 Assessment of Myocardial Viability 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
Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Objective
The objective of this analysis is to assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (cardiac MRI) for the assessment of myocardial viability. To evaluate the effectiveness of cardiac MRI viability imaging, the following outcomes were examined: the diagnostic accuracy in predicting functional recovery and the impact of cardiac MRI viability imaging on prognosis (mortality and other patient outcomes).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction and Heart Failure
Heart failure is a complex syndrome characterized by the heart’s inability to maintain adequate blood circulation through the body leading to multiorgan abnormalities and, eventually, death. Patients with heart failure experience poor functional capacity, decreased quality of life, and increased risk of morbidity and mortality.
In 2005, more than 71,000 Canadians died from cardiovascular disease, of which, 54% were due to ischemic heart disease. Left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction due to coronary artery disease (CAD) 1 is the primary cause of heart failure accounting for more than 70% of cases. The prevalence of heart failure was estimated at one percent of the Canadian population in 1989. Since then, the increase in the older population has undoubtedly resulted in a substantial increase in cases. Heart failure is associated with a poor prognosis: one-year mortality rates were 32.9% and 31.1% for men and women, respectively in Ontario between 1996 and 1997.
Treatment Options
In general, there are three options for the treatment of heart failure: medical treatment, heart transplantation, and revascularization for those with CAD as the underlying cause. Concerning medical treatment, despite recent advances, mortality remains high among treated patients, while, heart transplantation is affected by the limited availability of donor hearts and consequently has long waiting lists. The third option, revascularization, is used to restore the flow of blood to the heart via coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or, in some cases, through minimally invasive percutaneous coronary interventions (balloon angioplasty and stenting). Both methods, however, are associated with important perioperative risks including mortality, so it is essential to properly select patients for this procedure.
Myocardial Viability
Left ventricular dysfunction may be permanent, due to the formation of myocardial scar, or it may be reversible after revascularization. Reversible LV dysfunction occurs when the myocardium is viable but dysfunctional (reduced contractility). Since only patients with dysfunctional but viable myocardium benefit from revascularization, the identification and quantification of the extent of myocardial viability is an important part of the work-up of patients with heart failure when determining the most appropriate treatment path. Various non-invasive cardiac imaging modalities can be used to assess patients in whom determination of viability is an important clinical issue, specifically:
dobutamine echocardiography (echo),
stress echo with contrast,
SPECT using either technetium or thallium,
cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cardiac MRI), and
positron emission tomography (PET).
Dobutamine Echocardiography
Stress echocardiography can be used to detect viable myocardium. During the infusion of low dose dobutamine (5 – 10 µg/kg/min), an improvement of contractility in hypokinetic and akentic segments is indicative of the presence of viable myocardium. Alternatively, a low-high dose dobutamine protocol can be used in which a biphasic response characterized by improved contractile function during the low-dose infusion followed by a deterioration in contractility due to stress induced ischemia during the high dose dobutamine infusion (dobutamine dose up to 40 ug/kg/min) represents viable tissue. Newer techniques including echocardiography using contrast agents, harmonic imaging, and power doppler imaging may help to improve the diagnostic accuracy of echocardiographic assessment of myocardial viability.
Stress Echocardiography with Contrast
Intravenous contrast agents, which are high molecular weight inert gas microbubbles that act like red blood cells in the vascular space, can be used during echocardiography to assess myocardial viability. These agents allow for the assessment of myocardial blood flow (perfusion) and contractile function (as described above), as well as the simultaneous assessment of perfusion to make it possible to distinguish between stunned and hibernating myocardium.
SPECT
SPECT can be performed using thallium-201 (Tl-201), a potassium analogue, or technetium-99 m labelled tracers. When Tl-201 is injected intravenously into a patient, it is taken up by the myocardial cells through regional perfusion, and Tl-201 is retained in the cell due to sodium/potassium ATPase pumps in the myocyte membrane. The stress-redistribution-reinjection protocol involves three sets of images. The first two image sets (taken immediately after stress and then three to four hours after stress) identify perfusion defects that may represent scar tissue or viable tissue that is severely hypoperfused. The third set of images is taken a few minutes after the re-injection of Tl-201 and after the second set of images is completed. These re-injection images identify viable tissue if the defects exhibit significant fill-in (> 10% increase in tracer uptake) on the re-injection images.
The other common Tl-201 viability imaging protocol, rest-redistribution, involves SPECT imaging performed at rest five minutes after Tl-201 is injected and again three to four hours later. Viable tissue is identified if the delayed images exhibit significant fill-in of defects identified in the initial scans (> 10% increase in uptake) or if defects are fixed but the tracer activity is greater than 50%.
There are two technetium-99 m tracers: sestamibi (MIBI) and tetrofosmin. The uptake and retention of these tracers is dependent on regional perfusion and the integrity of cellular membranes. Viability is assessed using one set of images at rest and is defined by segments with tracer activity greater than 50%.
Cardiac Positron Emission Tomography
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine technique used to image tissues based on the distinct ways in which normal and abnormal tissues metabolize positron-emitting radionuclides. Radionuclides are radioactive analogs of common physiological substrates such as sugars, amino acids, and free fatty acids that are used by the body. The only licensed radionuclide used in PET imaging for viability assessment is F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG).
During a PET scan, the radionuclides are injected into the body and as they decay, they emit positively charged particles (positrons) that travel several millimetres into tissue and collide with orbiting electrons. This collision results in annihilation where the combined mass of the positron and electron is converted into energy in the form of two 511 keV gamma rays, which are then emitted in opposite directions (180 degrees) and captured by an external array of detector elements in the PET gantry. Computer software is then used to convert the radiation emission into images. The system is set up so that it only detects coincident gamma rays that arrive at the detectors within a predefined temporal window, while single photons arriving without a pair or outside the temporal window do not active the detector. This allows for increased spatial and contrast resolution.
Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cardiac MRI) is a non-invasive, x-ray free technique that uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed images of the structure and function of the heart. Two types of cardiac MRI are used to assess myocardial viability: dobutamine stress magnetic resonance imaging (DSMR) and delayed contrast-enhanced cardiac MRI (DE-MRI). DE-MRI, the most commonly used technique in Ontario, uses gadolinium-based contrast agents to define the transmural extent of scar, which can be visualized based on the intensity of the image. Hyper-enhanced regions correspond to irreversibly damaged myocardium. As the extent of hyper-enhancement increases, the amount of scar increases, so there is a lower the likelihood of functional recovery.
Evidence-Based Analysis
Research Questions
What is the diagnostic accuracy of cardiac MRI for detecting myocardial viability?
What is the impact of cardiac MRI viability imaging on prognosis (mortality and other clinical outcomes)?
How does cardiac MRI compare with cardiac PET imaging for the assessment of myocardial viability?
What is the contribution of cardiac MRI viability imaging to treatment decision making?
Is cardiac MRI cost-effective compared with other cardiac imaging modalities for the assessment of myocardial viability?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on October 9, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2005 until October 9, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. In addition, published systematic reviews and health technology assessments were reviewed for relevant studies published before 2005. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-reports
Published between January 1, 2005 and October 9, 2009
Health technology assessments, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and observational studies
Patients with chronic, known coronary artery disease (CAD)
Used contrast-enhanced MRI
Assessment of functional recovery ≥ 3 months after revascularization
Exclusion Criteria
< 20 patients
< 18 years of age
Patients with non-ischemic heart disease
Studies conducted exclusively in patients with acute myocardial infarction (MI)
Studies where TP, TN, FP, FN cannot be determined
Outcomes of Interest
Sensitivity
Specificity
Positive predictive value (PPV)
Negative Predictive value (NPV)
Positive likelihood ratio
Negative likelihood ratio
Diagnostic accuracy
Mortality rate (for prognostic studies)
Adverse events
Summary of Findings
Based on the available very low quality evidence, MRI is a useful imaging modality for the detection of viable myocardium. The pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity for the prediction of regional functional recovery as a surrogate for viable myocardium are 84.5% (95% CI: 77.5% – 91.6%) and 71.0% (95% CI: 68.8% – 79.2%), respectively.
Subgroup analysis demonstrated a statistically significant difference in the sensitivity of MRI to assess myocardial viability for studies using ≤25% hyperenhancement as a viability threshold versus studies using ≤50% hyperenhancement as their viability threshold [78.7 (95% CI: 69.1% - 88.2%) and 96.2 (95% CI: 91.8 – 100.6); p=0.0044 respectively]. Marked differences in specificity were observed [73.6 (95% CI: 62.6% - 84.6%) and 47.2 (95% CI: 22.2 – 72.3); p=0.2384 respectively]; however, these findings were not statistically significant.
There were no statistically significant differences between the sensitivities or specificities for any other subgroups including mean preoperative LVEF, imaging method for function recovery assessment, and length of follow-up.
There was no evidence available to determine whether patients with viable myocardium who are revascularized have a lower mortality rate than those who are treated with medical therapy.
PMCID: PMC3426228  PMID: 23074392
8.  Comparing the accuracy of quantitative versus qualitative analyses of interim PET to prognosticate Hodgkin lymphoma: a systematic review protocol of diagnostic test accuracy 
BMJ Open  2016;6(8):e011729.
Introduction
Hodgkin lymphoma is an effectively treated malignancy, yet 20% of patients relapse or are refractory to front-line treatments with potentially fatal outcomes. Early detection of poor treatment responders is crucial for appropriate application of tailored treatment strategies. Tumour metabolic imaging of Hodgkin lymphoma using visual (qualitative) 18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) is a gold standard for staging and final outcome assessment, but results gathered during the interim period are less accurate. Analysis of continuous metabolic–morphological data (quantitative) FDG-PET may enhance the robustness of interim disease monitoring, and help to improve treatment decision-making processes. The objective of this review is to compare diagnostic test accuracy of quantitative versus qualitative interim FDG-PET in the prognostication of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma.
Methods
The literature on this topic will be reviewed in a 3-step strategy that follows methods described by the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI). First, MEDLINE and EMBASE databases will be searched. Second, listed databases for published literature (MEDLINE, Tripdatabase, Pedro, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and WoS) and unpublished literature (Open Grey, Current Controlled Trials, MedNar, ClinicalTrials.gov, Cos Conference Papers Index and International Clinical Trials Registry Platform of the WHO) will be queried. Third, 2 independent reviewers will analyse titles, abstracts and full texts, and perform hand search of relevant studies, and then perform critical appraisal and data extraction from selected studies using the DATARI tool (JBI). If possible, a statistical meta-analysis will be performed on pooled sensitivity and specificity data gathered from the selected studies. Statistical heterogeneity will be assessed. Funnel plots, Begg's rank correlations and Egger's regression tests will be used to detect and/or correct publication bias.
Ethics and dissemination
The results will be disseminated by publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. Ethical assessment will not be needed; only existing sources of literature will be searched.
Trial registration number
CRD42016027953.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011729
PMCID: PMC4986203  PMID: 27496236
hodgkin lymphoma; PET; TLG; SUV
9.  The role of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board in a clinical trial: The CRISIS Study 
Objective
Randomized clinical trials are commonly overseen by a data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) comprised of experts in medicine, ethics, and biostatistics. DSMB responsibilities include protocol approval, interim review of study enrollment, protocol compliance, safety, and efficacy data. DSMB decisions can affect study design and conduct, as well as reported findings. Researchers must incorporate DSMB oversight into the design, monitoring, and reporting of randomized trials.
Design
Case study, narrative review.
Methods
The DSMB’s role during the comparative pediatric Critical Illness Stress-Induced Immune Suppression (CRISIS) Prevention Trial is described.
Findings
The NIH-appointed CRISIS DSMB was charged with monitoring sample size adequacy and feasibility, safety with respect to adverse events and 28-day mortality, and efficacy with respect to the primary nosocomial infection/sepsis outcome. The Federal Drug Administration also requested DSMB interim review before opening CRISIS to children below one year of age. The first interim analysis found higher 28-day mortality in one treatment arm. The DSMB maintained trial closure to younger children, and requested a second interim data review six months later. At this second meeting, mortality was no longer of concern, while a weak efficacy trend of lower infection/sepsis rates in one study arm emerged. As over 40% of total patients had been enrolled, the DSMB elected to examine conditional power, and unmask treatment arm identities. Upon finding somewhat greater efficacy in the placebo arm, the DSMB recommended stopping CRISIS due to futility.
Conclusions
The design and operating procedures of a multicenter randomized trial must consider a pivotal DSMB role. Maximum study design flexibility must be allowed, and investigators must be prepared for protocol modifications due to interim findings. The DSMB must have sufficient clinical and statistical expertise to assess potential importance of interim treatment differences in the setting of multiple looks at accumulating data with numerous outcomes and subgroups.
doi:10.1097/PCC.0b013e318274568c
PMCID: PMC3648617  PMID: 23392377
clinical trials; randomized; interim analysis; safety; nosocomial infection; sepsis
10.  Adapted Treatment Guided by Interim PET-CT Scan in Advanced Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 
The New England journal of medicine  2016;374(25):2419-2429.
Background
We tested interim positron-emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) as a measure of early response to chemotherapy in order to guide treatment for patients with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Methods
Patients with newly diagnosed advanced classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma underwent a baseline PET-CT scan, received two cycles of ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine) chemotherapy, and then underwent an interim PET-CT scan. Images were centrally reviewed with the use of a 5-point scale for PET findings. Patients with negative PET findings after two cycles were randomly assigned to continue ABVD (ABVD group) or omit bleomycin (AVD group) in cycles 3 through 6. Those with positive PET findings after two cycles received BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone). Radiotherapy was not recommended for patients with negative findings on interim scans. The primary outcome was the difference in the 3-year progression-free survival rate between randomized groups, a noninferiority comparison to exclude a difference of 5 or more percentage points.
Results
A total of 1214 patients were registered; 937 of the 1119 patients (83.7%) who underwent an interim PET-CT scan according to protocol had negative findings. With a median follow-up of 41 months, the 3-year progression-free survival rate and overall survival rate in the ABVD group were 85.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 82.1 to 88.6) and 97.2% (95% CI, 95.1 to 98.4), respectively; the corresponding rates in the AVD group were 84.4% (95% CI, 80.7 to 87.5) and 97.6% (95% CI, 95.6 to 98.7). The absolute difference in the 3-year progression-free survival rate (ABVD minus AVD) was 1.6 percentage points (95% CI, −3.2 to 5.3). Respiratory adverse events were more severe in the ABVD group than in the AVD group. BEACOPP was given to the 172 patients with positive findings on the interim scan, and 74.4% had negative findings on a third PET-CT scan; the 3-year progression-free survival rate was 67.5% and the overall survival rate 87.8%. A total of 62 patients died during the trial (24 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma), for a 3-year progression-free survival rate of 82.6% and an overall survival rate of 95.8%.
Conclusions
Although the results fall just short of the specified noninferiority margin, the omission of bleomycin from the ABVD regimen after negative findings on interim PET resulted in a lower incidence of pulmonary toxic effects than with continued ABVD but not significantly lower efficacy. (Funded by Cancer Research UK and Others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00678327.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1510093
PMCID: PMC4961236  PMID: 27332902
11.  18F-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography and bone scintigraphy for diagnosis of bone metastases in newly diagnosed, high-risk prostate cancer patients: study protocol for a multicentre, diagnostic test accuracy study 
BMC Cancer  2016;16:10.
Background
For decades, planar bone scintigraphy has been the standard practice for detection of bone metastases in prostate cancer and has been endorsed by recent oncology/urology guidelines. It is a sensitive method with modest specificity. 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography has shown improved sensitivity and specificity over bone scintigraphy, but because of methodological issues such as retrospective design and verification bias, the existing level of evidence with 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography is limited. The primary objective is to compare the diagnostic properties of 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography versus bone scintigraphy on an individual patient basis.
Methods/Design
One hundred forty consecutive, high-risk prostate cancer patients will be recruited from several hospitals in Denmark. Sample size was calculated using Hayen’s method for diagnostic comparative studies. This study will be conducted in accordance with recommendations of standards for reporting diagnostic accuracy studies. Eligibility criteria comprise the following: 1) biopsy-proven prostate cancer, 2) PSA ≥50 ng/ml (equals a prevalence of bone metastasis of ≈ 50 % in the study population on bone scintigraphy), 3) patients must be eligible for androgen deprivation therapy, 4) no current or prior cancer (within the past 5 years), 5) ability to comply with imaging procedures, and 6) patients must not receive any investigational drugs. Planar bone scintigraphy and 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography will be performed within a window of 14 days at baseline. All scans will be repeated after 26 weeks of androgen deprivation therapy, and response of individual lesions will be used for diagnostic classification of the lesions on baseline imaging among responding patients. A response is defined as PSA normalisation or ≥80 % reduction compared with baseline levels, testosterone below castration levels, no skeletal related events, and no clinical signs of progression. Images are read by blinded nuclear medicine physicians. The protocol is currently recruiting.
Discussion
To the best of our knowledge, this is one of the largest prospective studies comparing 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography and bone scintigraphy. It is conducted in full accordance with recommendations for diagnostic accuracy trials. It is intended to provide valid documentation for the use of 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography for examination of bone metastasis in the staging of prostate cancer.
doi:10.1186/s12885-016-2047-1
PMCID: PMC4709935  PMID: 26753880
Positron emission tomography/computed tomography; 18F-fluoride; Planar bone scintigraphy; Bone metastases; Prostate cancer
12.  Evaluating Clinical Trial Designs for Investigational Treatments of Ebola Virus Disease 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(4):e1001815.
Background
Experimental treatments for Ebola virus disease (EVD) might reduce EVD mortality. There is uncertainty about the ability of different clinical trial designs to identify effective treatments, and about the feasibility of implementing individually randomised controlled trials during an Ebola epidemic.
Methods and Findings
A treatment evaluation programme for use in EVD was devised using a multi-stage approach (MSA) with two or three stages, including both non-randomised and randomised elements. The probabilities of rightly or wrongly recommending the experimental treatment, the required sample size, and the consequences for epidemic outcomes over 100 d under two epidemic scenarios were compared for the MSA, a sequential randomised controlled trial (SRCT) with up to 20 interim analyses, and, as a reference case, a conventional randomised controlled trial (RCT) without interim analyses.
Assuming 50% 14-d survival in the population treated with the current standard of supportive care, all designs had similar probabilities of identifying effective treatments correctly, while the MSA was less likely to recommend treatments that were ineffective. The MSA led to a smaller number of cases receiving ineffective treatments and faster roll-out of highly effective treatments. For less effective treatments, the MSA had a high probability of including an RCT component, leading to a somewhat longer time to roll-out or rejection. Assuming 100 new EVD cases per day, the MSA led to between 6% and 15% greater reductions in epidemic mortality over the first 100 d for highly effective treatments compared to the SRCT. Both the MSA and SRCT led to substantially fewer deaths than a conventional RCT if the tested interventions were either highly effective or harmful. In the proposed MSA, the major threat to the validity of the results of the non-randomised components is that referral patterns, standard of care, or the virus itself may change during the study period in ways that affect mortality. Adverse events are also harder to quantify without a concurrent control group.
Conclusions
The MSA discards ineffective treatments quickly, while reliably providing evidence concerning effective treatments. The MSA is appropriate for the clinical evaluation of EVD treatments.
Ben Cooper and colleagues model different trial designs, including a multi-stage approach that contains non-randomized and randomized elements.
Editors' Summary
Background
The current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD)—a frequently fatal disease that first appeared in human populations in 1976 in remote villages in central Africa—has infected more than 24,000 people and killed more than 10,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia since early 2014. Ebola virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in human populations through direct contact with the bodily fluids (including blood, saliva, and urine) or with the organs of infected people or through contact with bedding and other materials contaminated with bodily fluids. The symptoms of EVD which start 2–21 days after infection, include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding. Infected individuals are not infectious until they develop symptoms but remain infectious as long as their bodily fluids contain virus. There is no proven treatment or vaccine for EVD, but supportive care—given under strict isolation conditions to prevent the spread of the disease to other patients or to healthcare workers—improves survival.
Why Was This Study Done?
Potential treatments for EVD include several antiviral drugs and injections of antibodies against Ebola virus from patients who have survived EVD. Before such therapies can be used clinically, their safety and effectiveness need to be evaluated, but experts disagree about how to undertake this evaluation. Drugs for clinical use are usually evaluated by undertaking a series of clinical trials. A phase I trial establishes the safety of the treatment and how the human body copes with it by giving several healthy volunteers the drug. Next, a phase II trial provides early indications of the drug’s efficacy by giving a few patients the drug. Finally, a large-scale multi-arm phase III randomized controlled trial (RCT) confirms the drug’s efficacy by comparing outcomes in patients randomly chosen to receive the investigational drug or standard care. This evaluation process is very lengthy. Moreover, it is hard to ethically justify undertaking an RCT in which only some patients receive a potentially life-saving drug during an Ebola epidemic. Here, the researchers evaluate a multi-stage approach (MSA) to EVD drug evaluation that comprises a single-arm phase II study followed by one or two phase III trials, one of which may be a sequential RCT (SRCT), a type of RCT that allows for multiple interim analyses, each of which may lead to study termination.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used analytic methods and computer simulations to compare EVD drug evaluation using the MSA, an SRCT, and a conventional RCT without interim analyses. Specifically, they estimated the probabilities of rightly or wrongly recommending the experimental treatment and the consequences for epidemic outcomes over 100 days for the three approaches. Assuming 50% survival at 14 days after symptom development in patients treated with supportive care only, all three trial designs were equally likely to identify effective treatments, but the MSA was less likely than the other designs to incorrectly recommend an ineffective treatment. Notably, the MSA led to fewer patients receiving ineffective treatments and faster roll-out of highly effective treatments. In an epidemic where 100 new cases occurred per day, for highly effective treatments, the MSA led to between 6% and 15% larger reductions in epidemic mortality over the first 100 days of the epidemic than the SRCT did. Finally, both the MSA and the SRCT led to fewer deaths than the conventional RCT if the tested interventions were either highly effective or harmful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that for experimental treatments that offer either no clinically significant benefit or large reductions in mortality the MSA can provide useful information about drug effectiveness faster than the other approaches tested. Thus, the MSA has the potential to reduce patient harm and the time to roll-out of an effective treatment for EVD. Although alternative evaluation designs are possible, the researchers suggest that including a non-randomized design in phase II is the quickest way to triage potential treatments and to decide how to test them further. For treatments that show strong evidence of benefit, it might even be possible to recommend the treatment without undertaking an RCT, they suggest. Moreover, for treatments that show only modest benefit in phase II, it should be easier (and more ethical) to set up RCTs to test the treatment further.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001815.
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information about EVD, information about potential EVD therapies, and regular updates on the current EVD epidemic; a summary of the discussion of a WHO Ethics Working Group Meeting on the ethical issues related to study design for EVD drug trials is available; the WHO website also provides information about efforts to control Ebola in the field and personal stories from people who have survived EVD
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information on EVD
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information about EVD
Wikipedia provides information about adaptive clinical trial design; a Lancet Global Health blog argues why adaptive trial designs should be used to evaluate drugs for the treatment of EVD
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001815
PMCID: PMC4397078  PMID: 25874579
13.  64-Slice Computed Tomographic Angiography for the Diagnosis of Intermediate Risk Coronary Artery Disease 
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 or at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html
Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Stress Echocardiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Stress Echocardiography with Contrast for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
64-Slice Computed Tomographic Angiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
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:
Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
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 this report is to determine the accuracy of computed tomographic angiography (CTA) compared to the more invasive option of coronary angiography (CA) in the detection of coronary artery disease (CAD) in stable (non-emergent) symptomatic patients.
CT Angiography
CTA is a cardiac imaging test that assesses the presence or absence, as well as the extent, of coronary artery stenosis for the diagnosis of CAD. As such, it is a test of cardiac structure and anatomy, in contrast to the other cardiac imaging modalities that assess cardiac function. It is, however, unclear as to whether cardiac structural features alone, in the absence cardiac function information, are sufficient to determine the presence or absence of intermediate pretest risk of CAD.
CTA technology is changing rapidly with increasing scan speeds and anticipated reductions in radiation exposure. Initial scanners based on 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 slice machines have been available since the end of 2004. Although 320-slice machines are now available, these are not widely diffused and the existing published evidence is specific to 64-slice scanners. In general, CTA allows for 3-dimensional (3D) viewing of the coronary arteries derived from software algorithms of 2-dimensional (2D) images.
The advantage of CTA over CA, the gold standard for the diagnosis of CAD, is that it is relatively less invasive and may serve as a test in determining which patients are best suited for a CA. CA requires insertion of a catheter through an artery in the arm or leg up to the area being studied, yet both tests involve contrast agents and radiation exposure. Therefore, the identification of patients for whom CTA or CA is more appropriate may help to avoid more invasive tests, treatment delays, and unnecessary radiation exposure. The main advantage of CA, however, is that treatment can be administered in the same session as the test procedure and as such, it’s recommended for patients with a pre-test probability of CAD of ≥80%. The progression to the more invasive CA allows for the diagnosis and treatment in one session without the added radiation exposure from a previous CTA.
The visibility of arteries in CTA images is best in populations with a disease prevalence, or pre-test probabilities of CAD, of 40% to 80%, beyond which patients are considered at high pre-test probability. Visibility decreases with increasing prevalence as arteries become increasingly calcified (coronary artery calcification is based on the Agaston score). Such higher risk patients are not candidates for the less invasive diagnostic procedures and should proceed directly to CA, where treatment can be administered in conjunction with the test itself, while bypassing the radiation exposure from CTA.
CTA requires the addition of an ionated contrast, which can be administered only in patients with sufficient renal function (creatinine levels >30 micromoles/litre) to allow for the clearing of the contrast from the body. In some cases, the contrast is administered in patients with creatinine levels less than 30 micromoles/litre.
A second important criterion for the administration of the CTA is patient heart rate, which should be less than 65 beats/min for the single source CTA machines and less than 80 beats/min for the dual source machines. To decrease heart rates to these levels, beta-blockers are often required. Although the accuracy of these two machines does not differ, the dual source machines can be utilized in a higher proportion of patients than the single source machines for patients with heart beats of up to 80 beats/min. Approximately 10% of patients are considered ineligible for CTA because of this inability to decrease heart rates to the required levels. Additional contra-indications include renal insufficiency as described above and atrial fibrillation, with approximately 10% of intermediate risk patients ineligible for CTA due these contraindications. The duration of the procedure may be between 1 and 1.5 hours, with about 15 minutes for the CTA and the remaining time for the preparation of the patient.
CTA is licensed by Health Canada as a Class III device. Currently, two companies have licenses for 64-slice CT scanners, Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation (License 67604) and Philips Medical Systems (License 67599 and 73260).
Research Questions
How does the accuracy of CTA compare to the more invasive CA in the diagnosis of CAD in symptomatic patients at intermediate risk of the disease?
How does the accuracy for CTA compare to other modalities in the detection of CAD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 20, 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 July 20, 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. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
English language articles and English or French-language HTAs published from January 1, 2004 to July 20, 2009.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), non-randomized clinical trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Studies of symptomatic patients at intermediate pre-test probability of CAD.
Studies of single source CTA compared to CA for the diagnosis of CAD.
Studies in which sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value (NPV) and positive predictive value (PPV) could be established. HTAs, SRs, clinical trials, observational studies.
Exclusion Criteria
Non-English studies.
Pediatric populations.
Studies of patients at low or high pre-test probability of CAD.
Studies of unstable patients, e.g., emergency room visits, or a prior diagnosis of CAD.
Studies in patients with non-ischemic heart disease.
Studies in which outcomes were not specific to those of interest in this report.
Studies in which CTA was not compared to CA in a stable population.
Outcomes of Interest)
CAD defined as ≥50% stenosis.
Comparator
Coronary angiography.
Measures of Interest
Sensitivity, specificity;
Negative predictive value (NPV), positive predictive value (PPV);
Area under the curve (AUC) and diagnostic odds ratios (DOR).
Results of Literature Search and Evidence-Based Analysis
The literature search yielded two HTAs, the first published by MAS in April 2005, the other from the Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre published in 2008, as well as three recent non-randomized clinical studies. The three most significant studies concerning the accuracy of CTA versus CA are the CORE-64 study, the ACCURACY trial, and a prospective, multicenter, multivendor study conducted in the Netherlands. Five additional non-randomized studies were extracted from the Belgian Health Technology Assessment (2008).
To provide summary estimates of sensitivity, specificity, area under the SROC curve (AUC) and diagnostic odds rations (DORs), a meta-analysis of the above-mentioned studies was conducted. Pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity were 97.7% (95%CI: 95.5% - 99.9%) and 78.8% (95%CI: 70.8% - 86.8%), respectively. These results indicate that the sensitivity of CTA is almost as good as CA, while its specificity is poorer. The diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) was estimated at 157.0 (95%CI: 11.2 - 302.7) and the AUC was found to be 0.94; however, the inability to provide confidence estimates for this estimate decreased its utility as an adequate outcome measure in this review.
This meta-analysis was limited by the significant heterogeneity between studies for both the pooled sensitivity and specificity (heterogeneity Chi-square p=0.000). To minimize these statistical concerns, the analysis was restricted to studies of intermediate risk patients with no previous history of cardiac events. Nevertheless, the underlying prevalence of CAD ranged from 24.8% to 78% between studies, indicating that there was still some variability in the pre-test probabilities of disease within this stable population. The variation in the prevalence of CAD, accompanied with differences in the proportion of calcification, likely affected the specificity directly and the sensitivity indirectly across studies.
In February 2010, the results of the Ontario Multi-detector Computed Tomography Coronary Angiography Study (OMCAS) became available and were thus included in a second meta-analysis of the above studies. The OMCAS was a non-randomized double-blind study conducted in 3 centers in Ontario that was conducted as a result of a MAS review from 2005 requesting an evaluation of the accuracy of 64-slice CTA for CAD detection. Within 10 days of their scheduled CA, all patients received an additional evaluation with CTA. Included in the meta-analysis with the above-mentioned studies are 117 symptomatic patients with intermediate probability of CAD (10% - 90% probability), resulting in a pooled sensitivity of 96.1% (95%CI: 94.0%-98.3%) and pooled specificity of 81.5% (95%CI: 73.0% - 89.9%).
Summary of Findings
CTA is almost as good as CA in detecting true positives but poorer in the rate of false positives. The main value of CTA may be in ruling out significant CAD.
Increased prevalence of CAD decreases study specificity, whereas specificity is increased in the presence of increased arterial calcification even in lower prevalence studies.
Positive CT angiograms may require additional tests such as stress tests or the more invasive CA, partly to identify false positives.
Radiation exposure is an important safety concern that needs to be considered, particularly the cumulative exposures from repeat CTAs.
PMCID: PMC3377576  PMID: 23074388
14.  When to perform positron emission tomography/computed tomography or radionuclide bone scan in patients with recently diagnosed prostate cancer 
Skeletal metastases are very common in prostate cancer and represent the main metastatic site in about 80% of prostate cancer patients, with a significant impact in patients’ prognosis. Early detection of bone metastases is critical in the management of patients with recently diagnosed high-risk prostate cancer: radical treatment is recommended in case of localized disease; systemic therapy should be preferred in patients with distant secondary disease. Bone scintigraphy using radiolabeled bisphosphonates is of great importance in the management of these patients; however, its main drawback is its low overall accuracy, due to the nonspecific uptake in sites of increased bone turnover. Positron-emitting radiopharmaceuticals, such as fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose, choline-derived drugs (fluorine-18-fluorocholine and carbon-11-choline) and sodium fluorine-18-fluoride, are increasingly used in clinical practice to detect metastatic spread, and particularly bone involvement, in patients with prostate cancer, to reinforce or substitute information provided by bone scan. Each radiopharmaceutical has a specific mechanism of uptake; therefore, diagnostic performances may differ from one radiopharmaceutical to another on the same lesions, as demonstrated in the literature, with variable sensitivity, specificity, and overall accuracy values in the same patients. Whether bone scintigraphy can be substituted by these new methods is a matter of debate. However, greater radiobiological burden, higher costs, and the necessity of an in-site cyclotron limit the use of these positron emission tomography methods as first-line investigations in patients with prostate cancer: bone scintigraphy remains the mainstay for the detection of bone metastases in current clinical practice.
doi:10.2147/CMAR.S34685
PMCID: PMC3704306  PMID: 23861598
bone metastases; prostate cancer; bisphosphonates; positron emission tomography
15.  Sequential interim analyses of survival data in DNA microarray experiments 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:127.
Background
Discovery of biomarkers that are correlated with therapy response and thus with survival is an important goal of medical research on severe diseases, e.g. cancer. Frequently, microarray studies are performed to identify genes of which the expression levels in pretherapeutic tissue samples are correlated to survival times of patients. Typically, such a study can take several years until the full planned sample size is available.
Therefore, interim analyses are desirable, offering the possibility of stopping the study earlier, or of performing additional laboratory experiments to validate the role of the detected genes. While many methods correcting the multiple testing bias introduced by interim analyses have been proposed for studies of one single feature, there are still open questions about interim analyses of multiple features, particularly of high-dimensional microarray data, where the number of features clearly exceeds the number of samples. Therefore, we examine false discovery rates and power rates in microarray experiments performed during interim analyses of survival studies. In addition, the early stopping based on interim results of such studies is evaluated. As stop criterion we employ the achieved average power rate, i.e. the proportion of detected true positives, for which a new estimator is derived and compared to existing estimators.
Results
In a simulation study, pre-specified levels of the false discovery rate are maintained in each interim analysis, where reduced levels as used in classical group sequential designs of one single feature are not necessary. Average power rates increase with each interim analysis, and many studies can be stopped prior to their planned end when a certain pre-specified power rate is achieved. The new estimator for the power rate slightly deviates from the true power rate but is comparable to other estimators.
Conclusions
Interim analyses of microarray experiments can provide evidence for early stopping of long-term survival studies. The developed simulation framework, which we also offer as a new R package 'SurvGenesInterim' available at http://survgenesinter.R-Forge.R-Project.org, can be used for sample size planning of the evaluated study design.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-127
PMCID: PMC3098786  PMID: 21527044
16.  Report of a nationwide survey on actual administered radioactivities of radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic reference levels in Japan 
Annals of Nuclear Medicine  2016;30:435-444.
Objective
The optimization of medical exposure is one of the major issues regarding radiation protection in the world, and The International Committee of Radiological Protection and the International Atomic Energy Agency recommend establishing diagnostic reference levels (DRLs) as tools for dose optimization. Therefore, the development of DRLs based on the latest survey has been required for nuclear medicine-related societies and organizations. This prompted us to conduct a nationwide survey on the actual administered radioactivity to adults for the purpose of developing DRLs in nuclear medicine.
Methods
A nationwide survey was conducted from November 25, 2014 to January 16, 2015. The questionnaire was sent to all of the 1249 nuclear medicine facilities in Japan, and the responses were collected on a website using an answered form.
Results
Responses were obtained from 516 facilities, for a response rate of 41 %. 75th percentile of 99mTc-MDP and 99mTc-HMDP: bone scintigraphy, 99mTc-HM-PAO, 99mTc-ECD and 123I-IMP: cerebral blood flow scintigraphy, 99mTc-Tetrofosmin, 99mTc-MIBI and 201Tl-Cl; myocardial perfusion scintigraphy and 18F-FDG: oncology PET (in-house-produced or delivery) in representative diagnostic nuclear medicine scans were 932, 937, 763, 775, 200, 831, 818, 180, 235 and 252, respectively. More than 90 % of the facilities were within the range of 50 % from the median of these survey results in representative diagnostic nuclear medicine facilities in Japan. Responses of the administered radioactivities recommended by the package insert, texts and guidelines such as 740 MBq (99mTc-MDP and 99mTc-HMDP: bone scintigraphy), 740 MBq (99mTc-ECD and 99mTc-HM-PAO: cerebral blood flow scintigraphy) and 740 MBq (99mTc-Tetrofosmin and 99mTc-MIBI: myocardial perfusion scintigraphy), etc. were numerous. The administered activity of many radiopharmaceuticals of bone scintigraphy (99mTc-MDP and 99mTc-HMDP), cerebral blood flow scintigraphy (99mTc-HM-PAO) and myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (99mTc-Tetrofosmin and 99mTc-MIBI), etc. were within the range of the EU DRLs and almost none of the administered radioactivity in Japan exceeded the upper limit of SNMMI standard administered radioactivity.
Conclusions
This survey indicated that the administered radioactivity in diagnostic nuclear medicine in Japan had been in the convergence zone and nuclear medicine facilities in Japan show a strong tendency to adhere to the texts and guidelines. Furthermore, the administered radioactivities in Japan were within the range of variation of the EU and the SNMMI administered radioactivities.
doi:10.1007/s12149-016-1079-6
PMCID: PMC4925688  PMID: 27154308
Survey; Diagnostic reference level; Radiopharmaceutical; Radioactivity; Optimization of dose
17.  Comparison of 99mTc-3PRGD2 Integrin Receptor Imaging with 99mTc-MDP Bone Scan in Diagnosis of Bone Metastasis in Patients with Lung Cancer: A Multicenter Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e111221.
Purpose
99mTc-3PRGD2, a promising tracer targeting integrin receptor, may serve as a novel tumor-specific agent for single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). A multi-center study was prospectively designed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of 99mTc-3PRGD2 imaging for bone metastasis in patients with lung cancer in comparison with the conventional 99mTc-MDP bone scan.
Methods
The patients underwent whole-body scan and chest tomography successively at both 1 h and 4 h after intravenous injection of 11.1 MBq/Kg 99mTc-3PRGD2. 99mTc-MDP whole-body bone scan was routinely performed within 1 week for comparison. Three experienced nuclear medicine physicians blindly read the 99mTc-3PRGD2 and 99mTc-MDP images. The final diagnosis was established based on the comprehensive assessment of all available data.
Results
A total of 44 patients (29 male, 59±10 years old) with suspected lung cancer were recruited from 4 centers. Eighty-nine bone lesions in 18 patients were diagnosed as metastases and 23 bone lesions in 9 patients were benign. In a lesion-based analysis, 99mTc-3PRGD2 imaging demonstrated a sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 92.1%, 91.3%, and 92.0%, respectively. The corresponding diagnostic values for 99mTc-MDP bone scan were 87.6%, 60.9%, and 82.1%, respectively in the same patients. 99mTc-MDP bone scan had better contrast in most lesions, whereas the 99mTc-3PRGD2 imaging seemed to be more effective to exclude pseudo-positive lesions and detect bone metastases without osteogenesis.
Conclusion
99mTc-3PRGD2 is a novel tumor-specific agent based on SPECT technology with a promising value in diagnosis of bone metastasis in patients with lung cancer.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01737112
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111221
PMCID: PMC4206469  PMID: 25338281
18.  Use of Expert Panels to Define the Reference Standard in Diagnostic Research: A Systematic Review of Published Methods and Reporting 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001531.
Loes C. M. Bertens and colleagues survey the published diagnostic research literature for use of expert panels to define the reference standard, characterize components and missing information, and recommend elements that should be reported in diagnostic studies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
In diagnostic studies, a single and error-free test that can be used as the reference (gold) standard often does not exist. One solution is the use of panel diagnosis, i.e., a group of experts who assess the results from multiple tests to reach a final diagnosis in each patient. Although panel diagnosis, also known as consensus or expert diagnosis, is frequently used as the reference standard, guidance on preferred methodology is lacking. The aim of this study is to provide an overview of methods used in panel diagnoses and to provide initial guidance on the use and reporting of panel diagnosis as reference standard.
Methods and Findings
PubMed was systematically searched for diagnostic studies applying a panel diagnosis as reference standard published up to May 31, 2012. We included diagnostic studies in which the final diagnosis was made by two or more persons based on results from multiple tests. General study characteristics and details of panel methodology were extracted. Eighty-one studies were included, of which most reported on psychiatry (37%) and cardiovascular (21%) diseases. Data extraction was hampered by incomplete reporting; one or more pieces of critical information about panel reference standard methodology was missing in 83% of studies. In most studies (75%), the panel consisted of three or fewer members. Panel members were blinded to the results of the index test results in 31% of studies. Reproducibility of the decision process was assessed in 17 (21%) studies. Reported details on panel constitution, information for diagnosis and methods of decision making varied considerably between studies.
Conclusions
Methods of panel diagnosis varied substantially across studies and many aspects of the procedure were either unclear or not reported. On the basis of our review, we identified areas for improvement and developed a checklist and flow chart for initial guidance for researchers conducting and reporting of studies involving panel diagnosis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Before any disease or condition can be treated, a correct diagnosis of the condition has to be made. Faced with a patient with medical problems and no diagnosis, a doctor will ask the patient about their symptoms and medical history and generally will examine the patient. On the basis of this questioning and examination, the clinician will form an initial impression of the possible conditions the patient may have, usually with a most likely diagnosis in mind. To support or reject the most likely diagnosis and to exclude the other possible diagnoses, the clinician will then order a series of tests and diagnostic procedures. These may include laboratory tests (such as the measurement of blood sugar levels), imaging procedures (such as an MRI scan), or functional tests (such as spirometry, which tests lung function). Finally, the clinician will use all the data s/he has collected to reach a firm diagnosis and will recommend a program of treatment or observation for the patient.
Why Was This Study Done?
Researchers are continually looking for new, improved diagnostic tests and multivariable diagnostic models—combinations of tests and characteristics that point to a diagnosis. Diagnostic research, which assesses the accuracy of new tests and models, requires that each patient involved in a diagnostic study has a final correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, for most conditions, there is no single, error-free test that can be used as the reference (gold) standard for diagnosis. If an imperfect reference standard is used, errors in the final disease classification may bias the results of the diagnostic study and may lead to a new test being adopted that is actually less accurate than existing tests. One widely used solution to the lack of a reference standard is “panel diagnosis” in which two or more experts assess the results from multiple tests to reach a final diagnosis for each patient in a diagnostic study. However, there is currently no formal guidance available on the conduct and reporting of panel diagnosis. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify research on a given topic) to provide an overview of the methodology and reporting of panel diagnosis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 81 published diagnostic studies that used panel diagnosis as a reference standard. 37% of these studies reported on psychiatric diseases, 21% reported on cardiovascular diseases, and 12% reported on respiratory diseases. Most of the studies (64%) were designed to assess the accuracy of one or more diagnostic test. Notably, one or more critical piece of information on methodology was missing in 83% of the studies. Specifically, information on the constitution of the panel was missing in a quarter of the studies and information on the decision-making process (whether, for example, a diagnosis was reached by discussion among panel members or by combining individual panel member's assessments) was incomplete in more than two-thirds of the studies. In three-quarters of the studies for which information was available, the panel consisted of only two or three members; different fields of expertise were represented in the panels in nearly two-thirds of the studies. In a third of the studies for which information was available, panel members made their diagnoses without access to the results of the test being assessed. Finally, the reproducibility of the decision-making process was assessed in a fifth of the studies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the methodology of panel diagnosis varies substantially among diagnostic studies and that reporting of this methodology is often unclear or absent. Both the methodology and reporting of panel diagnosis could, therefore, be improved substantially. Based on their findings, the researchers provide a checklist and flow chart to help guide the conduct and reporting of studies involving panel diagnosis. For example, they suggest that, when designing a study that uses panel diagnosis as the reference standard, the number and background of panel members should be considered, and they provide a list of options that should be considered when planning the decision-making process. Although more research into each of the options identified by the researchers is needed, their recommendations provide a starting point for the development of formal guidelines on the methodology and reporting of panel diagnosis for use as a reference standard in diagnostic research.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001531.
Wikipedia has a page on medical diagnosis (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The Equator Network is an international initiative that seeks to improve the reliability and value of medical research literature by promoting transparent and accurate reporting of research studies; its website includes information on a wide range of reporting guidelines, including the STAndards for the Reporting of Diagnostic accuracy studies (STARD), an initiative that aims to improve the accuracy and completeness of reporting of studies of diagnostic accuracy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001531
PMCID: PMC3797139  PMID: 24143138
19.  A comparative study of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography and 99mTc-MDP whole-body bone scanning for imaging osteolytic bone metastases 
BMC Medical Imaging  2015;15:7.
Background
The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and diagnostic value of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT) and 99mTc-methylenediphosphonate (MDP) whole-body bone scanning (BS) for the detection of osteolytic bone metastases.
Methods
Thirty-four patients with pathologically confirmed malignancies and suspected osteolytic bone metastases underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT and 99mTc-MDP whole-body BS within 30 days. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy with respect to the diagnosis of osteolytic bone metastases and bone lesions were compared between the two imaging methods.
Results
The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 18F-FDG PET/CT for the diagnosis of osteolytic bone metastases were 94.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 91.6–96.2%), 83.3% (95% CI, 43.6–96.9%), and 94.2% (95% CI, 91.5–96.1%), respectively. It was found that 99mTc-MDP whole-body BS could discriminate between patients with 50.2% (95% CI, 45.4–55.1%) sensitivity, 50.0% (95% CI, 18.8–81.2%) specificity, and 50.2% (95% CI, 45.5–55.1%) accuracy. 18F-FDG PET/CT achieved higher sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in detecting osteolytic bone metastases than 99mTc-MDP whole-body BS (p<0.001).
Conclusions
F-FDG PET/CT has a higher diagnostic value than 99mTc-MDP whole-body BS in the detection of osteolytic bone metastases, especially in the vertebra.
doi:10.1186/s12880-015-0047-2
PMCID: PMC4358702  PMID: 25885599
Positron emission tomography; Radionuclide imaging; Skeleton; Metastatic tumor; Osteolytic
20.  The evolving role of response-adapted PET imaging in Hodgkin lymphoma 
18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography with (FDG-PET) has a well-established role in the pre- and post-treatment staging of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), however its use as a predictive therapeutic tool via responded-adapted therapy continues to evolve. There have been a multitude of retrospective and noncontrolled clinical studies showing that early (or interim) FDG-PET is highly prognostic in HL, particularly in the advanced-stage setting. Response-adapted treatment approaches in HL are attempting to diminish toxicity for low-risk patients by minimizing therapy, and conversely, intensify treatment for high-risk patients. Results from phase III noninferiority studies in early-stage HL with negative interim FDG-PET that randomized patients to chemotherapy alone versus combined modality therapy showed a continued small improvement in progression-free survival for patients who did not receive radiation. Preliminary reports of data escalating therapy for positive interim FDG-PET in early-stage HL and for de-escalation of therapy [i.e. bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine and prednisone (BEACOPP)] for negative interim FDG-PET in advanced stage HL (i.e. deletion of bleomycin) have demonstrated improved outcomes. Maturation of these studies and continued follow up of all response-adapted studies are needed. Altogether, the treatment of HL remains an individualized clinical management choice for physicians and patients. Continued refinement and optimization of FDG-PET is needed, including within the context of targeted therapeutic agents. In addition, a number of new and novel techniques of functional imaging, including metabolic tumor volume and tumor proliferation, are being explored in order to enhance staging, characterization, prognostication and ultimately patient outcome.
doi:10.1177/2040620715625615
PMCID: PMC4802505  PMID: 27054026
contrast-enhanced computerized tomography; 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography; interim positron emission tomography; Hodgkin lymphoma; positron emission tomography; prognosis
21.  Robotic-Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery for Gynecologic and Urologic Oncology 
Executive Summary
Objective
An application was received to review the evidence on the ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ for the treatment of gynecologic malignancies (e.g. endometrial and cervical cancers). Limitations to the current standard of care include the lack of trained physicians on minimally invasive surgery and limited access to minimally invasive surgery for patients. The potential benefits of ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ include improved technical manipulation and physician uptake leading to increased surgeries, and treatment and management of these cancers.
The demand for robotic surgery for the treatment and management of prostate cancer has been increasing due to its alleged benefits of recovery of erectile function and urinary continence, two important factors of men’s health. The potential technical benefits of robotic surgery leading to improved patient functional outcomes are surgical precision and vision.
Clinical Need
Uterine and cervical cancers represent 5.4% (4,400 of 81,700) and 1.6% (1,300 of 81,700), respectively, of incident cases of cancer among female cancers in Canada. Uterine cancer, otherwise referred to as endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus. The most common treatment option for endometrial cancer is removing the cancer through surgery. A surgical option is the removal of the uterus and cervix through a small incision in the abdomen using a laparoscope which is referred to as total laparoscopic hysterectomy. Risk factors that increase the risk of endometrial cancer include taking estrogen replacement therapy after menopause, being obese, early age at menarche, late age at menopause, being nulliparous, having had high-dose radiation to the pelvis, and use of tamoxifen.
Cervical cancer occurs at the lower narrow end of the uterus. There are more treatment options for cervical cancer compared to endometrial cancer, however total laparoscopic hysterectomy is also a treatment option. Risk factors that increase the risk for cervical cancer are multiple sexual partners, early sexual activity, infection with the human papillomavirus, and cigarette smoking, whereas barrier-type of contraception as a risk factor decreases the risk of cervical cancer.
Prostate cancer is ranked first in men in Canada in terms of the number of new cases among all male cancers (25,500 of 89,300 or 28.6%). The impact on men who develop prostate cancer is substantial given the potential for erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Prostate cancer arises within the prostate gland, which resides in the male reproductive system and near the bladder. Radical retropubic prostatectomy is the gold standard treatment for localized prostate cancer. Prostate cancer affects men above 60 years of age. Other risk factors include a family history of prostate cancer, being of African descent, being obese, consuming a diet high in fat, physical inactivity, and working with cadium.
The Da Vinci Surgical System
The Da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic device. There are four main components to the system: 1) the surgeon’s console, where the surgeon sits and views a magnified three-dimensional image of the surgical field; 2) patient side-cart, which sits beside the patient and consists of three instrument arms and one endoscope arm; 3) detachable instruments (endowrist instruments and intuitive masters), which simulate fine motor human movements. The hand movements of the surgeon’s hands at the surgeon’s console are translated into smaller ones by the robotic device and are acted out by the attached instruments; 4) three-dimensional vision system: the camera unit or endoscope arm. The main advantages of use of the robotic device are: 1) the precision of the instrument and improved dexterity due to the use of “wristed” instruments; 2) three-dimensional imaging, with improved ability to locate blood vessels, nerves and tissues; 3) the surgeon’s console, which reduces fatigue accompanied with conventional laparoscopy surgery and allows for tremor-free manipulation. The main disadvantages of use of the robotic device are the costs including instrument costs ($2.6 million in US dollars), cost per use ($200 per use), the costs associated with training surgeons and operating room personnel, and the lack of tactile feedback, with the trade-off being increased visual feedback.
Research Questions
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
1. What is the effectiveness of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
2. What are the incremental costs of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
For prostate cancer,
3. What is the effectiveness of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
4. What are the incremental costs of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on May 12, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, CINAHL, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment for studies published from January 1, 2000 until May 12, 2010. 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 additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
English language articles (January 1, 2000-May 12, 2010)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a primary data source (e.g. obtained in a clinical setting)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a secondary data source (e.g. hospital- or population-based registries)
Study design and methods must be clearly described
Health technology assessments, systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, non-randomized controlled trials and/or cohort studies, case-case studies, regardless of sample size, cost-effectiveness studies
Exclusion Criteria
Duplicate publications (with the more recent publication on the same study population included)
Non-English papers
Animal or in-vitro studies
Case reports or case series without a referent or comparison group
Studies on long-term survival which may be affected by treatment
Studies that do not examine the cancers (e.g. advanced disease) or outcomes of interest
Outcomes of Interest
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Number of complications*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of conversions to laparotomy*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
For prostate cancer,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Amount of morphine use/pain*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of transfusions*
- Duration of catheterization
- Number of complications*
- Number of anastomotic strictures*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
Oncologic factors
- Proportion of positive surgical margins
Long-term outcomes
- Urinary continence
- Erectile function
Summary of Findings
Robotic use for gynecologic oncology compared to:
Laparotomy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
The beneficial effect of robotic surgery was shown in pooled analysis for complications, owing to increased sample size.
More work is needed to clarify the role of complications in terms of safety, including improved study designs, analysis and measurement.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization, less blood loss and fewer conversions to laparotomy likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations and blood loss is low.
Fewer conversions to laparotomy indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity.
Robotic use for urologic oncology, specifically prostate cancer, compared to:
Retropubic surgery: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss/fewer individuals requiring transfusions. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations. There was a beneficial effect in terms of decreased positive surgical margins and erectile dysfunction. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of improved cancer control and functional outcomes, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
Surgeon skill had an impact on cancer control and functional outcomes.
The results for complications were inconsistent when measured as either total number of complications, pain management or anastomosis. There is some suggestion that robotic surgery is safe with respect to less post-operative pain management required compared to retropubic surgery, however improved study design and measurement of complications need to be further addressed.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations is low.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of less blood loss and fewer individuals requiring transfusions likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for blood loss is low.
The potential link between less blood loss, improved visualization and improved functional outcomes is an important consideration for use of robotics.
All studies included were observational in nature and therefore the results must be interpreted cautiously.
Economic Analysis
The objective of this project was to assess the economic impact of robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) for endometrial, cervical, and prostate cancers in the province of Ontario.
A budget impact analysis was undertaken to report direct costs associated with open surgery (OS), endoscopic laparoscopy (EL) and robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) based on clinical literature review outcomes, to report a budget impact in the province based on volumes and costs from administrative data sets, and to project a future impact of RAL in Ontario. A cost-effectiveness analysis was not conducted because of the low quality evidence from the clinical literature review.
Hospital costs were obtained from the Ontario Case Costing Initiative (OCCI) for the appropriate Canadian Classification of Health Intervention (CCI) codes restricted to selective ICD-10 diagnostic codes after consultation with experts in the field. Physician fees were obtained from the Ontario Schedule of Benefits (OSB) after consultation with experts in the field. Fees were costed based on operation times reported in the clinical literature for the procedures being investigated. Volumes of procedures were obtained from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) administrative databases.
Direct costs associated with RAL, EL and OS included professional fees, hospital costs (including disposable instruments), radiotherapy costs associated with positive surgical margins in prostate cancer and conversion to OS in gynecological cancer. The total cost per case was higher for RAL than EL and OS for both gynecological and prostate cancers. There is also an acquisition cost associated with RAL. After conversation with the only supplier in Canada, hospitals are looking to spend an initial 3.6M to acquire the robotic surgical system
Previous volumes of OS and EL procedures were used to project volumes into Years 1-3 using a linear mathematical expression. Burden of OS and EL hysterectomies and prostatectomies was calculated by multiplying the number of cases for that year by the cost/case of the procedure.
The number of procedures is expected to increase in the next three years based on historical data. RAL is expected to capture this market by 65% after consultation with experts. If it’s assumed that RAL will capture the current market in Ontario by 65%, the net impact is expected to be by Year 3, 3.1M for hysterectomy and 6.7M for prostatectomy procedures respectively in the province.
RAL has diffused in the province with four surgical systems in place in Ontario, two in Toronto and two in London. RAL is a more expensive technology on a per case basis due to more expensive robot specific instrumentation and physician labour reflected by increased OR time reported in the clinical literature. There is also an upfront cost to acquire the machine and maintenance contract. RAL is expected to capture the market at 65% with project net impacts by Year 3 of 3.1M and 6.7M for hysterectomy and prostatectomy respectively.
PMCID: PMC3382308  PMID: 23074405
22.  Multi-Detector Computed Tomography Angiography for Coronary Artery Disease 
Executive Summary
Purpose
Computed tomography (CT) scanning continues to be an important modality for the diagnosis of injury and disease, most notably for indications of the head and abdomen. (1) According to a recent report published by the Canadian Institutes of Health Information, (1) there were about 10.3 scanners per million people in Canada as of January 2004. Ontario had the fewest number of CT scanners per million compared to the other provinces (8 CT scanners per million). The wait time for CT in Ontario of 5 weeks approaches the Canadian median of 6 weeks.
This health technology and policy appraisal systematically reviews the published literature on multidetector CT (MDCT) angiography as a diagnostic tool for the newest indication for CT, coronary artery disease (CAD), and will apply the results of the review to current health care practices in Ontario. This review does not evaluate MDCT to detect coronary calcification without contrast medium for CAD screening purposes.
The Technology
Compared with conventional CT scanning, MDCT can provide smaller pieces of information and can cover a larger area faster. (2) Advancing MDCT technology (8, 16, 32, 64 slice systems) is capable of producing more images in less time. For general CT scanning, this faster capability can reduce the time that patients must stay still during the procedure, thereby reducing potential movement artefact. However, the additional clinical utility of images obtained from faster scanners compared to the images obtained from conventional CT scanners for current CT indications (i.e., non-moving body parts) is not known.
There are suggestions that the new fast scanners can reduce wait times for general CT. MDCT angiography that utilizes a contrast medium, has been proposed as a minimally invasive replacement to coronary angiography to detect coronary artery disease. MDCT may take between 15 to 45 minutes; coronary angiography may take up to 1 hour.
Although 16-slice and 32-slice CT scanners have been available for a few years, 64-slice CT scanners were released only at the end of 2004.
Review Strategy
There are many proven, evidence-based indications for conventional CT. It is not clear how MDCT will add to the clinical utility and management of patients for established CT indications. Therefore, because cardiac imaging, specifically MDCT angiography, is a new indication for CT, this literature review focused on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of MDCT angiography compared with coronary angiography in the diagnosis and management of people with CAD.
This review asked the following questions:
Is the most recent MDCT angiography effective in the imaging of the coronary arteries compared with conventional angiography to correctly diagnose of significant (> 50% lumen reduction) CAD?
What is the utility of MDCT angiography in the management and treatment of patients with CAD?
How does MDCT angiography in the management and treatment of patients with CAD affect longterm outcomes?
The published literature from January 2003 to January 31, 2005 was searched for articles that focused on the detection of coronary artery disease using 16-slice CT or faster, compared with coronary angiography. The search yielded 138 articles; however, 125 were excluded because they did not meet the inclusion criteria (comparison with coronary angiography, diagnostic accuracy measures calculated, and a sample size of 20 or more). As screening for CAD is not advised, studies that utilized MDCT for this purpose or studies that utilized MDCT without contrast media were also excluded. Overall, 13 studies were included in this review.
Summary of Findings
The published literature focused on 16-slice CT angiography for the detection of CAD. Two abstracts that were presented at the 2005 European Congress of Radiology meeting in Vienna compared 64-slice CT angiography with coronary angiography.
The 13 studies focussing on 16-slice CT angiography were stratified into 2 groups: Group 1 included 9 studies that focused on the detection of CAD in symptomatic patients, and Group 2 included 4 studies that examined the use of 16-slice CT angiography to detect disease progression after cardiac interventions. The 2 abstracts on 64-slice CT angiography were presented separately, but were not critically appraised due to the lack of information provided in the abstracts.
16-Slice Computed Tomography Angiography
The STARD initiative to evaluate the reporting quality of studies that focus on diagnostic tests was used. Overall the studies were relatively small (fewer than 100 people), and only about one-half recruited consecutive patients. Most studies reported inclusion criteria, but 5 did not report exclusion criteria. In these 5, the patients were highly selected; therefore, how representative they are of the general population of people with suspicion if CAD or those with disease progression after cardiac intervention is questionable. In most studies, patients were either already taking, or were given, β-blockers to reduce their heart rates to improve image quality sufficiently. Only 6 of the 13 studies reported interobserver reliability quantitatively. The studies typically assessed the quality of the images obtained from 16-slice CT angiography, excluded those of poor quality, and compared the rest with the gold standard, coronary angiography. This practice necessarily inflated the diagnostic accuracy measures. Only 3 studies reported confidence intervals around their measures.
Evaluation of the studies in Group 1 reported variable sensitivity, from just over 60% to 96%, but a more stable specificity, at more than 95%. The false positive rate ranged from 5% to 8%, but the false negative rate was at best under 10% and at worst about 30%. This means that up to one-third of patients who have disease may be missed. These patients may therefore progress to a more severe level of disease and require more invasive procedures. The calculated positive and negative likelihood ratios across the studies suggested that 16-slice CT angiography may be useful to detect disease, but it is not useful to rule out disease. The prevalence of disease, measured by conventional coronoary angiography, was from 50% to 80% across the studies in this review. Overall, 16-slice CT angiography may be useful, but there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that it is equivalent to or better than coronary angiography to detect CAD in symptomatic patients.
In the 4 studies in Group 2, sensitivity and specificity were both reported at more than 95% (except for 1 that reported sensitivity of about 80%). The positive and negative likelihood ratios suggested that the test might be useful to detect disease progression in patients who had cardiac interventions. However, 2 of the 4 studies recruited patients who had been asymptomatic since their intervention. As many of the patients studied were not symptomatic, the relevance of performing MDCT angiography in the patient population may be in question.
64-Slice Computed Tomography Angiography
An analysis from the interim results based on 2 abstracts revealed that 64-slice CT angiography was insufficient compared to coronary angiography and may not be better than 16-slice CT angiography to detect CAD.
Conclusions
Cardiac imaging is a relatively new indication for CT. A systematic review of the literature was performed from 2003 to January 2005 to determine the effectiveness of MDCT angiography (16-slice and 64-slice) compared to coronary angiography to detect CAD. At the time of this report, there was no published literature on 64-slice CT for any indications.
Based on this review, the Medical Advisory Secretariat concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that 16-slice or 64-slice CT angiography is equal to or better than coronary angiography to diagnose CAD in people with symptoms or to detect disease progression in patients who had previous cardiac interventions. An analysis of the evidence suggested that in investigating suspicion of CAD, a substantial number of patients would be missed. This means that these people would not be appropriately treated. These patients might progress to more severe disease and possibly more adverse events. Overall, the clinical utility of MDCT in patient management and long-term outcomes is unknown.
Based on the current evidence, it is unlikely that CT angiography will replace coronary angiography completely, but will probably be used adjunctively with other cardiac diagnostic tests until more definitive evidence is published.
If multi-slice CT scanners are used for coronary angiography in Ontario, access to the current compliment of CT scanners will necessarily increase wait times for general CT scanning. It is unlikely that these newer-generation scanners will improve patient throughput, despite the claim that they are faster.
Screening for CAD in asymptomatic patients and who have no history of ischemic heart disease using any modality is not advised, based on the World Health Organization criteria for screening. Therefore, this review did not examine the use of multi-slice CT for this purpose.
PMCID: PMC3382628  PMID: 23074474
23.  Modeling and simulation of maintenance treatment in first-line non-small cell lung cancer with external validation 
BMC Cancer  2016;16:473.
Background
Maintenance treatment (MTx) in responders following first-line treatment has been investigated and practiced for many cancers. Modeling and simulation may support interpretation of interim data and development decisions. We aimed to develop a modeling framework to simulate overall survival (OS) for MTx in NSCLC using tumor growth inhibition (TGI) data.
Methods
TGI metrics were estimated using longitudinal tumor size data from two Phase III first-line NSCLC studies evaluating bevacizumab and erlotinib as MTx in 1632 patients. Baseline prognostic factors and TGI metric estimates were assessed in multivariate parametric models to predict OS. The OS model was externally validated by simulating a third independent NSCLC study (n = 253) based on interim TGI data (up to progression-free survival database lock). The third study evaluated pemetrexed + bevacizumab vs. bevacizumab alone as MTx.
Results
Time-to-tumor-growth (TTG) was the best TGI metric to predict OS. TTG, baseline tumor size, ECOG score, Asian ethnicity, age, and gender were significant covariates in the final OS model. The OS model was qualified by simulating OS distributions and hazard ratios (HR) in the two studies used for model-building. Simulations of the third independent study based on interim TGI data showed that pemetrexed + bevacizumab MTx was unlikely to significantly prolong OS vs. bevacizumab alone given the current sample size (predicted HR: 0.81; 95 % prediction interval: 0.59–1.09). Predicted median OS was 17.3 months and 14.7 months in both arms, respectively. These simulations are consistent with the results of the final OS analysis published 2 years later (observed HR: 0.87; 95 % confidence interval: 0.63–1.21). Final observed median OS was 17.1 months and 13.2 months in both arms, respectively, consistent with our predictions.
Conclusions
A robust TGI-OS model was developed for MTx in NSCLC. TTG captures treatment effect. The model successfully predicted the OS outcomes of an independent study based on interim TGI data and thus may facilitate trial simulation and interpretation of interim data. The model was built based on erlotinib data and externally validated using pemetrexed data, suggesting that TGI-OS models may be treatment-independent. The results supported the use of longitudinal tumor size and TTG as endpoints in early clinical oncology studies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-016-2455-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12885-016-2455-2
PMCID: PMC4944249  PMID: 27412292
Non-small cell lung cancer; Maintenance treatment; Tumor growth inhibition; Trial simulation; Overall survival; External validation
24.  Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder 
Executive Summary
Objective
This review was conducted to assess the effectiveness of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).
The Technology
rTMS is a noninvasive way to stimulate nerve cells in areas of the brain. During rTMS, an electrical current passes through a wire coil placed over the scalp. The current induces a magnetic field that produces an electrical field in the brain that then causes nerve cells to depolarize, resulting in the stimulation or disruption of brain activity.
Researchers have investigated rTMS as an option to treat MDD, as an add-on to drug therapy, and, in particular, as an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for patients with treatment-resistant depression.
The advantages of rTMS over ECT for patients with severe refractory depression are that general anesthesia is not needed, it is an outpatient procedure, it requires less energy, the simulation is specific and targeted, and convulsion is not required. The advantages of rTMS as an add-on treatment to drug therapy may include hastening of the clinical response when used with antidepressant drugs.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat used its standard search strategy to locate international health technology assessments and English-language journal articles published from January 1996 to March 2004.
Summary of Findings
Some early meta-analyses suggested rTMS might be effective for the treatment of MDD (for treatment-resistant MDD and as an add-on treatment to drug therapy for patients not specifically defined as treatment resistant). There were, however, several crucial methodological limitations in the included studies that were not critically assessed. These are discussed below.
Recent meta-analyses (including 2 international health technology assessments) have done evidence-based critical analyses of studies that have assessed rTMS for MDD. The 2 most recent health technology assessments (from the Oxford Cochrane Collaboration and the Norwegian Centre for Health Technology Assessment) concluded that there is no evidence that rTMS is effective for the treatment of MDD, either as compared with a placebo for patients with treatment-resistant or nontreatment-resistant MDD, or as an alternative to ECT for patients with treatment-resistant MDD. This mainly due to the poor quality of the studies.
The major methodological limitations were identified in older meta-analyses, recent health technology assessments, and the most recently published trials (Level 2–4 evidence) on the effectiveness of rTMS for MDD are discussed below.
Small sample size was a limitation acknowledged by many of the authors. There was also a lack of a priori sample size calculation or justification.
Biased randomization may have been a problem. Generally, the published reports lacked detailed information on the method of allocation concealment used. This is important because it is impossible to determine if there was a possible influence (direct or indirect) in the allocation of the patients to different treatment groups.
The trials were single blind, evaluated by external blinded assessors, rather than double blind. Double blinding is more robust, because neither the participants nor the investigators know which participants are receiving the active treatment and which are getting a placebo. Those administering rTMS, however, cannot be blinded to whether they are administering the active treatment or a placebo.
There was patient variability among the studies. In some studies, the authors said that patients were “medication resistant,” but the definitions of resistant, if provided, were inconsistent or unclear. For example, some described “medication resistant” as failing at least one trial of drugs during the current depressive episode. Furthermore, it was unclear if the term “medication resistant” referred to antidepressants only or to combinations of antidepressants and other drug augmentation strategies (such as neuroleptics, benzodiazepine, carbamazepine, and lithium). Also variable was the type of depression (i.e., unipolar and/or bipolar), if patients were inpatients or outpatients, if they had psychotic symptoms or no psychotic symptoms, and the chronicity of depression.
Dropouts or withdrawals were a concern. Some studies reported that patients dropped out, but provided no further details. Intent-to-treat analysis was not done in any of the trials. This is important, because ignoring patients who drop out of a trial can bias the results, usually in favour of the treatment. This is because patients who withdraw from trials are less likely to have had the treatment, more likely to have missed their interim checkups, and more likely to have experienced adverse effects when taking the treatment, compared with patients who do not withdraw. (1)
Measurement of treatment outcomes using scales or inventories makes interpreting results and drawing conclusions difficult. The most common scale, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) is based on a semistructured interview. Some authors (2) reported that rating scales based on semistructured interviews are more susceptible to observation bias than are self-administered questionnaires such as the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Martin et al. (3) argued that the lack of consistency in effect as determined by the 2 scales (a positive result after 2 weeks of treatment as measured by the HDRS and a negative result for the BDI) makes definitive conclusions about the nature of the change in mood of patients impossible. It was suggested that because of difficulties interpreting results from psychometric scales, (4) and the subjective or unstable character of MDD, other, more objective, outcome measures such as readmission to hospital, time to hospital discharge, time to adjunctive treatment, and time off work should be used to assess rTMS for the treatment of depression.
A placebo effect could have influenced the results. Many studies reported response rates for patients who received placebo treatment. For example, Klein et al. (5) reported a control group response rate as high as 25%. Patients receiving placebo rTMS may receive a small dose of magnetic energy that may alter their depression.
Short-term studies were the most common. Patients received rTMS treatment for 1 to 2 weeks. Most studies followed-up patients for 2 to 4 weeks post-treatment. Dannon et al. (6) followed-up patients who responded to a course of ECT or rTMS for up to 6 months; however, the assessment procedure was not blinded, the medication regimen during follow-up was not controlled, and initial baseline data for the patient groups were not reported. The long-term effectiveness of rTMS for the treatment of depression is unknown, as is the long-term use, if any, of maintenance therapy. The cost-effectiveness of rTMS for the treatment of depression is also unknown. A lack of long-term studies makes cost-effectiveness analysis difficult.
The complexity of possible combinations for administering rTMS makes comparing like with like difficult. Wasserman and Lisanby (7) have said that the method for precisely targeting the stimulation in this area is unreliable. It is unknown if the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is the optimal location for treatment. Further, differences in rTMS administration include number of trains per session, duration of each train, and motor threshold.
Clinical versus statistical significance. Several meta-analyses and studies have found that the degree of therapeutic change associated with rTMS across studies is relatively modest; that is, results may be statistically, but not necessarily clinically, significant. (8-11). Conventionally, a 50% reduction in the HDRS scores is commonly accepted as a clinically important reduction in depression. Although some studies have observed a statistically significant reduction in the depression rating, many have not shows the clinically significant reduction of 50% on the HDRS. (11-13) Therefore, few patients in these studies would meet the standard criteria for response. (9)
Clinical/methodological diversity and statistical heterogeneity. In the Norwegian health technology assessment, Aarre et al. (14) said that a formal meta-analysis was not feasible because the designs of the studies varied too much, particularly in how rTMS was administered and in the characteristics of the patients. They noted that the quality of the study designs was poor. The 12 studies that comprised the assessment had small samples, and highly variable inclusion criteria and study designs. The patients’ previous histories, diagnoses, treatment histories, and treatment settings were often insufficiently characterized. Furthermore, many studies reported that patients had treatment-resistant MDD, yet did not listclear criteria for the designation. Without this information, Aarre and colleagues suggested that the interpretation of the results is difficult and the generalizability of results is questionable. They concluded that rTMS cannot be recommended as a standard treatment for depression: “More, larger and more carefully designed studies are needed to demonstrate convincingly a clinically relevant effect of rTMS.”
In the Cochrane Collaboration systematic review, Martin et al. (3;15) said that the complexity of possible combinations for administering rTMS makes comparison of like versus like difficult. A statistical test for heterogeneity (chi-square test) examines if the observed treatment effects are more different from each other than one would expect due to random error (or chance) alone. (16) However, this statistical test must be interpreted with caution because it has low power in the (common) situation of a meta-analysis when the trials have small sample sizes or are few. This means that while a statistically significant result may indicate a problem with heterogeneity, a nonsignificant result must not be taken as evidence of no heterogeneity.
Despite not finding statistically significant heterogeneity, Martin et al. reported that the overall mean baseline depression values for the severity of depression were higher in the treatment group than in the placebo group. (3;15) Although these differences were not significant at the level of each study, they may have introduced potential bias into the meta-analysis of pooled data by accentuating the tendency for regression to the mean of the more extreme values. Individual patient data from all the studies were not available; therefore, an appropriate adjustment according to baseline severity was not possible. Martin et al. concluded that the findings from the systematic review and meta-analysis provided insufficient evidence to suggest that rTMS is effective in the treatment of depression. Moreover, there were several confounding factors (e.g., definition of treatment resistance) in the studies, thus the authors concluded, “The rTMS technique needs more high quality trials to show its effectiveness for therapeutic use.”
Conclusion
Due to several serious methodological limitations in the studies that have examined the effectiveness of rTMS in patients with MDD, it is not possible to conclude that rTMS either is or is not effective as a treatment for MDD (in treatment-resistant depression or in nontreatment-resistant depression).
PMCID: PMC3387754  PMID: 23074457
25.  Effect of Selenium and Vitamin E on Risk of Prostate Cancer and Other Cancers: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) 
Context
Secondary analyses of two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and supportive epidemiologic and preclinical indicated the potential of selenium and vitamin E for preventing prostate cancer.
Objective
To determine whether selenium or vitamin E or both could prevent prostate cancer with little or no toxicity in relatively healthy men.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Randomization of a planned 32,400 men to selenium, vitamin E, selenium plus vitamin E, and placebo in a double-blinded fashion. Participants were recruited and followed in community practices, local hospitals and HMOs, and tertiary cancer centers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Baseline eligibility included 50 years or older (African American) or 55 years or older (all others), a serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) ≤ 4 ng/mL, and a digital rectal examination (DRE) not suspicious for prostate cancer. Between 2001 and 2004, 35,533 men (10% more than planned because of a faster-than-expected accrual rate) were randomly assigned to the four study arms, which were well balanced with respect to all potentially important risk factors.
Interventions
Oral selenium (200 µg/day from L-selenomethionine) and matched vitamin E placebo, vitamin E (400 IU/day of all rac-α-tocopheryl acetate) and matched selenium placebo, or the two combined or placebo plus placebo for a planned minimum of 7 and maximum of 12 years.
Main Outcome Measures
Prostate cancer (as determined by routine community diagnostic standards) and prespecified secondary outcomes including lung, colorectal and overall cancer.
Results
Study supplements were discontinued at the recommendation of the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee at a planned 7-year interim analysis because the evidence convincingly demonstrated no benefit from either study agent (p < 0.0001) and no possibility of a benefit to the planned degree with additional follow-up. As of October 23, 2008, median overall follow-up was 5.46 years (range, 4.17 and 7.33). Hazard ratios (number of prostate cancers, 99% confidence intervals [CIs]) for prostate cancer were 1.13 for vitamin E (n=473; CI, 0.91–1.41), 1.04 for selenium (n=432; CI, 0.83–1.30), and 1.05 for the combination (n=437; CI, 0.83–1.31) compared with placebo (n=416). There were no significant differences (all p-values > 0.15) in any prespecified cancer endpoints. There were nonsignificant increased risks of prostate cancer in the vitamin E arm (p=0.06; relative risk [RR]=1.13; 99% CI, 0l95–1.35) and of Type 2 diabetes mellitus in the selenium arm (p=0.16; RR=1.07; 99% CI, 0.94–1.22), but they were not observed in the combination arm.
Conclusion
Selenium or vitamin E, alone or in combination, did not prevent prostate cancer in this population at the doses and formulations used.
doi:10.1001/jama.2008.864
PMCID: PMC3682779  PMID: 19066370

Results 1-25 (1872662)