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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  Diagnosis of bone infection by complementary role of technetium-99m MDP and technetium-99m hexamethylpropylene-amineoxime-leukocytes 
Purpose:
Valuate complementary role of 99mTc-MDP bone scan and 99mTechnetium hexamethylpropylene-amineoxime (99mTc-HMPAO) labeled leukocyte scintigraphy in diagnosis of bone infection.
Patients and Methods:
Ninety one sites suspected to have bone infection were divided in to two groups: Group I 49 sites with current endo-prothesis; and group II 42 sites with no prosthesis. All patients were subjected to serial images of 99mTc-HMPAO labeled leukocyte (99mTc-white blood cells (WBCs)), triple phase bone scan (99mTc-MDP) and plain X-ray, in addition to clinical and bacteriological assessment, together with follow-up.
Results:
The overall sensitivity (Sn) was found to be 34.9%, 95.4%, and 86% for plain X-ray, 99mTc-MDP, and 99mTc-WBCs respectively. Concerning specificity (Sp) was found to be 47.9%, 45.8%, and 91.7% respectively for the three imaging modalities. 99mTc-WBCs showed better Sn, Sp, and accuracy in group I (95%, 93.1% and 93.9%, respectively) compared to 40%, 41.4%, and 40.8% for plain X-ray and 90%, 62%, and 73.5% respectively for 99mTc-MDP. On the other hand, 99mTc-MDP proved to have best Sn 100% versus 78.3% and 30.4% for 99mTc-WBCs and plain X-ray respectively. Yet, Sp and accuracy was found to best for 99mTc-WBCs (89.5% and 83.3% respectively) compared to 57.9% and 42.9% for plain X-ray and 21.1% and 64.3% for 99mTc-MDP.
Conclusion:
Combined imaging with 99mTc-WBCs and 99mTc-MDP proved to be effective in early detection of bone infection in the presence or absence of prosthesis.
doi:10.4103/0972-3919.112721
PMCID: PMC3728737  PMID: 23919069
Bone infection; prosthesis; triple phase bone scan; 99mTechnetium hexamethylpropylene-amineoxime-leukocyte
10.  Statistical aspects of the TNK-S2B trial of tenecteplase versus alteplase in acute ischemic stroke: an efficient, dose-adaptive, seamless phase II/III design 
Background TNK-S2B, an innovative, randomized, seamless phase II/III trial of tenecteplase versus rt-PA for acute ischemic stroke, terminated for slow enrollment before regulatory approval of use of phase II patients in phase III.
Purpose (1) To review the trial design and comprehensive type I error rate simulations and (2) to discuss issues raised during regulatory review, to facilitate future approval of similar designs.
Methods In phase II, an early (24-h) outcome and adaptive sequential procedure selected one of three tenecteplase doses for phase III comparison with rt-PA. Decision rules comparing this dose to rt-PA would cause stopping for futility at phase II end, or continuation to phase III. Phase III incorporated two co-primary hypotheses, allowing for a treatment effect at either end of the trichotomized Rankin scale. Assuming no early termination, four interim analyses and one final analysis of 1908 patients provided an experiment-wise type I error rate of <0.05.
Results Over 1,000 distribution scenarios, each involving 40,000 replications, the maximum type I error in phase III was 0.038. Inflation from the dose selection was more than offset by the one-half continuity correction in the test statistics. Inflation from repeated interim analyses was more than offset by the reduction from the clinical stopping rules for futility at the first interim analysis.
Limitations Design complexity and evolving regulatory requirements lengthened the review process.
Conclusions (1) The design was innovative and efficient. Per protocol, type I error was well controlled for the co-primary phase III hypothesis tests, and experiment-wise. (2a) Time must be allowed for communications with regulatory reviewers from first design stages. (2b) Adequate type I error control must be demonstrated. (2c) Greater clarity is needed on (i) whether this includes demonstration of type I error control if the protocol is violated and (ii) whether simulations of type I error control are acceptable. (2d) Regulatory agency concerns that protocols for futility stopping may not be followed may be allayed by submitting interim analysis results to them as these analyses occur.
doi:10.1177/1740774511410582
PMCID: PMC3198122  PMID: 21737464
11.  Approval Summary: Letrozole (Femara® Tablets) for Adjuvant and Extended Adjuvant Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Treatment: Conversion of Accelerated to Full Approval 
The Oncologist  2011;16(12):1762-1770.
Trials leading to the conversion of letrozole from accelerated to full approval for adjuvant and extended adjuvant (following 5 years of tamoxifen) treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor–positive early breast cancer are summarized.
Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Compare the efficacy of letrozole and tamoxifen.Contrast the adverse effect profile of letrozole with those of tamoxifen and placebo.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at CME.TheOncologist.com
On April 30, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration converted letrozole (Femara®; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ) from accelerated to full approval for adjuvant and extended adjuvant (following 5 years of tamoxifen) treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor–positive early breast cancer.
The initial accelerated approvals of letrozole for adjuvant and extended adjuvant treatment on December 28, 2005 and October 29, 2004, respectively, were based on an analysis of the disease-free survival (DFS) outcome of patients followed for medians of 26 months and 28 months, respectively. Both trials were double-blind, multicenter studies. Both trials were unblinded early when an interim analysis showed a favorable letrozole effect on DFS.
In updated intention-to-treat analyses of both trials, the risk for a DFS event was lower with letrozole than with tamoxifen (hazard ratio [HR], 0.87; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.77–0.99; p = .03) in the adjuvant trial and was lower than with placebo (HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.76–1.03; p = .12) in the extended adjuvant trial. The latter analysis ignores the interim switch of 60% of placebo-treated patients to letrozole.
Bone fractures and osteoporosis were reported more frequently following treatment with letrozole whereas tamoxifen was associated with a higher risk for endometrial proliferation and endometrial cancer. Myocardial infarction was more frequently reported with letrozole than with tamoxifen, but the incidence of thromboembolic events was higher with tamoxifen than with letrozole. Lipid-lowering medications were required for 25% of patients on letrozole and 16% of patients on tamoxifen.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0287
PMCID: PMC3248775  PMID: 22089970
Letrozole; Femara®; Postmenopausal breast cancer; Adjuvant treatment
12.  Sample size recalculation in sequential diagnostic trials 
Biostatistics (Oxford, England)  2009;11(1):151-163.
Before a comparative diagnostic trial is carried out, maximum sample sizes for the diseased group and the nondiseased group need to be obtained to achieve a nominal power to detect a meaningful difference in diagnostic accuracy. Sample size calculation depends on the variance of the statistic of interest, which is the difference between receiver operating characteristic summary measures of 2 medical diagnostic tests. To obtain an appropriate value for the variance, one often has to assume an arbitrary parametric model and the associated parameter values for the 2 groups of subjects under 2 tests to be compared. It becomes more tedious to do so when the same subject undergoes 2 different tests because the correlation is then involved in modeling the test outcomes. The calculated variance based on incorrectly specified parametric models may be smaller than the true one, which will subsequently result in smaller maximum sample sizes, leaving the study underpowered. In this paper, we develop a nonparametric adaptive method for comparative diagnostic trials to update the sample sizes using interim data, while allowing early stopping during interim analyses. We show that the proposed method maintains the nominal power and type I error rate through theoretical proofs and simulation studies.
doi:10.1093/biostatistics/kxp044
PMCID: PMC2800369  PMID: 19822693
Diagnostic accuracy; Error spending function; ROC; Sensitivity; Specificity
13.  Efficacy of Pneumococcal Nontypable Haemophilus influenzae Protein D Conjugate Vaccine (PHiD-CV) in Young Latin American Children: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001657.
In a double-blind randomized controlled trial, Xavier Saez-Llorens and colleagues examine the vaccine efficacy of PHiD-CV against community-acquired pneumonia in young children in Panama, Argentina, and Columbia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The relationship between pneumococcal conjugate vaccine–induced antibody responses and protection against community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and acute otitis media (AOM) is unclear. This study assessed the impact of the ten-valent pneumococcal nontypable Haemophilus influenzae protein D conjugate vaccine (PHiD-CV) on these end points. The primary objective was to demonstrate vaccine efficacy (VE) in a per-protocol analysis against likely bacterial CAP (B-CAP: radiologically confirmed CAP with alveolar consolidation/pleural effusion on chest X-ray, or non-alveolar infiltrates and C-reactive protein ≥ 40 µg/ml); other protocol-specified outcomes were also assessed.
Methods and Findings
This phase III double-blind randomized controlled study was conducted between 28 June 2007 and 28 July 2011 in Argentine, Panamanian, and Colombian populations with good access to health care. Approximately 24,000 infants received PHiD-CV or hepatitis control vaccine (hepatitis B for primary vaccination, hepatitis A at booster) at 2, 4, 6, and 15–18 mo of age. Interim analysis of the primary end point was planned when 535 first B-CAP episodes, occurring ≥2 wk after dose 3, were identified in the per-protocol cohort. After a mean follow-up of 23 mo (PHiD-CV, n = 10,295; control, n = 10,201), per-protocol VE was 22.0% (95% CI: 7.7, 34.2; one-sided p = 0.002) against B-CAP (conclusive for primary objective) and 25.7% (95% CI: 8.4%, 39.6%) against World Health Organization–defined consolidated CAP. Intent-to-treat VE was 18.2% (95% CI: 5.5%, 29.1%) against B-CAP and 23.4% (95% CI: 8.8%, 35.7%) against consolidated CAP. End-of-study per-protocol analyses were performed after a mean follow-up of 28–30 mo for CAP and invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) (PHiD-CV, n = 10,211; control, n = 10,140) and AOM (n = 3,010 and 2,979, respectively). Per-protocol VE was 16.1% (95% CI: −1.1%, 30.4%; one-sided p = 0.032) against clinically confirmed AOM, 67.1% (95% CI: 17.0%, 86.9%) against vaccine serotype clinically confirmed AOM, 100% (95% CI: 74.3%, 100%) against vaccine serotype IPD, and 65.0% (95% CI: 11.1%, 86.2%) against any IPD. Results were consistent between intent-to-treat and per-protocol analyses. Serious adverse events were reported for 21.5% (95% CI: 20.7%, 22.2%) and 22.6% (95% CI: 21.9%, 23.4%) of PHiD-CV and control recipients, respectively. There were 19 deaths (n = 11,798; 0.16%) in the PHiD-CV group and 26 deaths (n = 11,799; 0.22%) in the control group. A significant study limitation was the lower than expected number of captured AOM cases.
Conclusions
Efficacy was demonstrated against a broad range of pneumococcal diseases commonly encountered in young children in clinical practice.
Trial registration
www.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00466947
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Pneumococcal diseases are illnesses caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, pathogens (disease-causing organisms) that are transmitted through contact with infected respiratory secretions. S. pneumoniae causes mucosal diseases–infections of the lining of the body cavities that are connected to the outside world–such as community-acquired pneumonia (CAP; lung infection) and acute otitis media (AOM; middle-ear infection). It also causes invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPDs) such as septicemia and meningitis (infections of the bloodstream and the covering of the brain, respectively). Although pneumococcal diseases can sometimes be treated with antibiotics, CAP and IPDs are leading global causes of childhood deaths, particularly in developing countries. It is best therefore to avoid S. pneumoniae infections through vaccination. Vaccination primes the immune system to recognize and attack pathogens rapidly and effectively by exposing it to weakened or dead pathogens or to pathogen molecules that it recognizes as foreign (antigens). Because there are more than 90 S. pneumoniae variants (“serotypes”), each characterized by a different antigenic polysaccharide (complex sugar) coat, S. pneumoniae vaccines have to include antigens from multiple serotypes. For example, the PHiD-CV vaccine contains polysaccharides from ten S. pneumoniae serotypes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although in most countries PHiD-CV has been licensed for protection against IPD and pneumococcal AOM, at the time of study, it was not known how well it protected against CAP and overall AOM, which are important public health problems. In this double-blind randomized controlled trial (the Clinical Otitis Media and Pneumonia Study; COMPAS), the researchers investigate the efficacy of PHiD-CV against CAP and AOM and assess other clinical end points, such as IPD, in Latin American infants. Double-blind randomized controlled trials compare the effects of interventions by assigning study participants to different interventions randomly and measuring predefined outcomes without the study participants or researchers knowing who has received which intervention until the trial is completed. Vaccine efficacy is the reduction in the incidence of a disease (the number of new cases that occur in a population in a given time) among trial participants who receive the vaccine compared to the incidence among participants who do not receive the vaccine.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled around 24,000 infants living in urban areas of Argentina, Panama, and Colombia. Half the infants were given PHiD-CV at 2, 4, and 6 months of age and a booster dose at age 15–18 months. The remaining infants were given a hepatitis control vaccine at the same intervals. The trial's primary end point was likely bacterial CAP (B-CAP) –radiologically confirmed CAP, with the airspaces (alveoli) in the lungs filled with liquid instead of gas (alveolar consolidation) or with non-alveolar infiltrates and raised blood levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation). In a planned interim analysis, which was undertaken after an average follow-up of 23 months, the vaccine efficacy in the per-protocol cohort (the group of participants who actually received their assigned intervention) was 22% against B-CAP. Intent-to-treat vaccine efficacy in the interim analysis (which considered all the trial participants regardless of whether they received their assigned intervention) was 18.2%. At the end of the study (average follow up 30 months), the vaccine efficacy against B-CAP was 18.2% and 16.7% in the per-protocol and intent-to-treat cohorts, respectively. Per-protocol vaccine efficacies against clinically confirmed AOM and vaccine serotype AOM were 16.1% and 67.1%, respectively. Against any IPD and against vaccine serotype IPD, the respective vaccine efficacies were 65% and 100%. Finally, about one-fifth of children who received PHiD-CV and a similar proportion who received the control vaccine experienced a serious adverse event (for example, gastroenteritis); 19 children who received PHiD-CV died compared to 26 children who received the control vaccine.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that in Latin America, a region with an intermediate burden of pneumococcal disease, PHiD-CV is efficacious against a broad range of pneumococcal diseases that often affect young children. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by the withdrawal of 14% of participants from the trial because of adverse media coverage and by the low number of reported cases of AOM. Moreover, because most study participants lived in urban areas, these findings may not be generalizable to rural settings. Despite these and other study limitations, these findings provide new information about the magnitude of the effect of PHiD-CV vaccination against CAP and AOM, two mucosal pneumococcal diseases of global public health importance.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001657.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal vaccination, including personal stories
Public Health England provides information on pneumococcal disease and on pneumococcal vaccines
The not-for-profit Immunization Action Coalition has information on pneumococcal disease, including personal stories
The GAVI Alliance provides information about pneumococcal disease and the importance of vaccination
MedlinePlus has links to further information about pneumococcal infections, including pneumonia and otitis media (in English and Spanish)
More information about COMPAS is available
The European Medicines Agency provides information about PHiD-CV (Synflorix)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001657
PMCID: PMC4043495  PMID: 24892763
14.  Interim analysis for binary outcome trials with a long fixed follow-up time and repeated outcome assessments at pre-specified times 
SpringerPlus  2014;3:323.
In trials with binary outcomes, assessed repeatedly at pre-specified times and where the subject is considered to have experienced a failure at the first occurrence of the outcome, interim analyses are performed, generally, after half or more of the subjects have completed follow-up. Depending on the duration of accrual relative to the length of follow-up, this may be inefficient, since there is a possibility that the trial will have completed accrual prior to the interim analysis. An alternative is to plan the interim analysis after subjects have completed follow-up to a time that is less than the fixed full follow-up duration. Using simulations, we evaluated three methods to estimate the event proportion for the interim analysis in terms of type I and II errors and the probability of early stopping. We considered: 1) estimation of the event proportion based on subjects who have been followed for a pre-specified time (less than the full follow-up duration) or who experienced the outcome; 2) estimation of the event proportion based on data from all subjects that have been randomized by the time of the interim analysis; and 3) the Kaplan-Meier approach to estimate the event proportion at the time of the interim analysis. Our results show that all methods preserve and have comparable type I and II errors in certain scenarios. In these cases, we recommend using the Kaplan-Meier method because it incorporates all the available data and has greater probability of early stopping when the treatment effect exists.
doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-323
PMCID: PMC4087327  PMID: 25019050
Interim analysis; Binary outcome; Power; Type I error
15.  Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective was to update the 2001 systematic review conducted by the Institute For Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) on the use of positron emission tomography (PET) in assessing myocardial viability. The update consisted of a review and analysis of the research evidence published since the 2001 ICES review to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of PET in detecting left ventricular (LV) viability and predicting patient outcomes after revascularization in comparison with other noninvasive techniques.
Background
Left Ventricular Viability
Heart failure is a complex syndrome that impairs the contractile ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood circulation, resulting in poor functional capacity and increased risk of morbidity and mortality. It is the leading cause of hospitalization in elderly Canadians. In more than two-thirds of cases, heart failure is secondary to coronary heart disease. It has been shown that dysfunctional myocardium resulting from coronary heart disease (CAD) may recover contractile function (i.e. considered viable). Dysfunctional but viable myocardium may have been stunned by a brief episode of ischemia, followed by restoration of perfusion, and may regain function spontaneously. It is believed that repetitive stunning results in hibernating myocardium that will only regain contractile function upon revascularization.
For people with CAD and severe LV dysfunction (left ventricular ejection fraction [LVEF] <35%) refractory to medical therapy, coronary artery bypass and heart transplantation are the only treatment options. The opportunity for a heart transplant is limited by scarcityof donor hearts. Coronary artery bypass in these patients is associated with high perioperative complications; however, there is evidence that revascularization in the presence of dysfunctional but viable myocardium is associated with survival benefits and lower rates of cardiac events. The assessment of left ventricular (LV) viability is, therefore, critical in deciding whether a patient with coronary artery disease and severe LV dysfunction should undergo revascularization, receive a heart transplant, or remain on medical therapy.
Assessment of Left Ventricular Viability
Techniques for assessing myocardial viability depend on the measurement of a specific characteristic of viable myocytes such as cell membrane integrity, preserved metabolism, mitochondria integrity, and preserved contractile reserve. In Ontario, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) using radioactive 201thallium is the most commonly used technique followed by dobutamine echocardiography. Newer techniques include SPECT using technetium tracers, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and PET, the subject of this review.
Positron Emission Tomography
PET is a nuclear imaging technique based on the metabolism of radioactive analogs of normal substrates such as glucose and water. The radiopharmaceutical used most frequently in myocardial viability assessment is F18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), a glucose analog. The procedure involves the intravenous administration of FDG under controlled glycemic conditions, and imaging with a PET scanner. The images are reconstructed using computer software and analyzed visually or semi-quantitatively, often in conjunction with perfusion images. Dysfunctional but stunned myocardium is characterized by normal perfusion and normal FDG uptake; hibernating myocardium exhibits reduced perfusion and normal/enhanced FDG uptake (perfusion/metabolism mismatch), whereas scar tissue is characterized by reduction in both perfusion and FDG uptake (perfusion/metabolism match).
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat used a search strategy similar to that used in the 2001 ICES review to identify English language reports of health technology assessments and primary studies in selected databases, published from January 1, 2001 to April 20, 2005. Patients of interest were those with CAD and severe ventricular dysfunction being considered for revascularization that had undergone viability assessment using either PET and/or other noninvasive techniques. The outcomes of interest were diagnostic and predictive accuracy with respect to recovery of regional or global LV function, long-term survival and cardiac events, and quality of life. Other outcomes of interest were impact on treatment decision, adverse events, and cost-effectiveness ratios.
Of 456 citations, 8 systematic reviews/meta-analyses and 37 reports on primary studies met the selection criteria. The reports were categorized using the Medical Advisory Secretariat levels of evidence system, and the quality of the reports was assessed using the criteria of the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS) developed by the Centre for Dissemination of Research (National Health Service, United Kingdom). Analysis of sensitivity, specificity, predictive values and likelihood ratios were conducted for all data as well as stratified by mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). There were no randomized controlled trials. The included studies compared PET with one or more other noninvasive viability tests on the same group of patients or examined the long-term outcomes of PET viability assessments. The quality assessment showed that about 50% or more of the studies had selection bias, interpreted tests without blinding, excluded uninterpretable segments in the analysis, or did not have clearly stated selection criteria. Data from the above studies were integrated with data from the 2001 ICES review for analysis and interpretation.
Summary of Findings
The evidence was derived from populations with moderate to severe ischemic LV dysfunction with an overall quality that ranges from moderate to low.
PET appears to be a safe technique for assessing myocardial viability.
CAD patients with moderate to severe ischemic LV dysfunction and residual viable myocardium had significantly lower 2-year mortality rate (3.2%) and higher event-free survival rates (92% at 3 years) when treated with revascularization than those who were not revascularized but were treated medically (16% mortality at 2-years and 48% 3-year event-free survival).
A large meta-analysis and moderate quality studies of diagnostic accuracy consistently showed that compared to other noninvasive diagnostic tests such as thallium SPECT and echocardiography, FDG PET has:
Higher sensitivity (median 90%, range 71%–100%) and better negative likelihood ratio (median 0.16, range 0–0.38; ideal <0.1) for predicting regional myocardial function recovery after revascularization.
Specificity (median 73%, range 33%–91%) that is similar to other radionuclide imaging but lower than that of dobutamine echocardiography
Less useful positive likelihood ratio (median 3.1, range 1.4 –9.2; ideal>10) for predicting segmental function recovery.
Taking positive and negative likelihood ratios together suggests that FDG PET and dobutamine echocardiography may produce small but sometimes important changes in the probability of recovering regional wall motion after revascularization.
Given its higher sensitivity, PET is less likely to produce false positive results in myocardial viability. PET, therefore, has the potential to identify some patients who might benefit from revascularization, but who would not have been identified as suitable candidates for revascularization using thallium SPECT or dobutamine echocardiography.
PET appears to be superior to other nuclear imaging techniques including SPECT with 201thallium or technetium labelled tracers, although recent studies suggest that FDG SPECT may have comparable diagnostic accuracy as FDG PET for predicting regional and global LV function recovery.
No firm conclusion can be reached about the incremental value of PET over other noninvasive techniques for predicting global function improvement or long-term outcomes in the most important target population (patients with severe ischemic LV dysfunction) due to lack of direct comparison.
An Ontario-based economic analysis showed that in people with CAD and severe LV dysfunction and who were found to have no viable myocardium or indeterminate results by thallium SPECT, the use of PET as a follow-up assessment would likely result in lower cost and better 5-year survival compared to the use of thallium SPECT alone. The projected annual budget impact of adding PET under the above scenario was estimated to range from $1.5 million to $2.3 million.
Conclusion
In patients with severe LV dysfunction, that are deemed to have no viable myocardium or indeterminate results in assessments using other noninvasive tests, PET may have a role in further identifying patients who may benefit from revascularization. No firm conclusion can be drawn on the impact of PET viability assessment on long-term clinical outcomes in the most important target population (i.e. patients with severe LV dysfunction).
PMCID: PMC3385418  PMID: 23074467
16.  Is there any significance of lung cancer histology to compare the diagnostic accuracies of 18F-FDG-PET/CT and 99mTc-MDP BS for the detection of bone metastases in advanced NSCLC? 
Contemporary Oncology  2014;18(2):106-110.
Aim of the study
Bone scintigraphy (BS) and fluorine-18 deoxyglucose positron emission tomography computed tomography (18F-FDG-PET/CT) are widely used for the detection of bone involvement. The optimal imaging modality for the detection of bone metastases in histological subgroups of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains ambiguous. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of 18F-FDG-PET/C and 99mTc-methylene diphosphonate (99mTc-MDP) BS in the detection of bone metastases of patients in NSCLC. Specifically, we compared the diagnostic accuracies of these imaging techniques evaluating bone metastasis in histological subgroups of NSCLC.
Material and methods
Fifty-three patients with advanced NSCLC, who had undergone both 18F-FDG-PET/CT and BS and were eventually diagnosed as having bone metastasis, were enrolled in this retrospective study.
Results
The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of 18F-FDG-PET/CT and BS were 90.4%, 99.4%, 98.1%, 96.6%, 97.0% and 84.6%, 93.1%, 82.5%, 93.2, 90.8%, respectively. The κ statistics were calculated for 18F-FDG-PET/CT and BS. The κ-value was 0.67 between 18F-FDG-PET/CT and BS in all patients. On the other hand, the κ-value was 0.65 in adenocarcinoma, and 0.61 in squamous cell carcinoma between 18F-FDG-PET/CT and BS. The κ-values suggested excellent agreement between all patients and histological subgroups of NSCLC.
Conclusions
18F-FDG-PET/CT was more favorable than BS in the screening of metastatic bone lesions, but the trend did not reach statistical significance in all patients and histological subgroups of NSCLC. Our results need to be validated in prospective and larger study clinical trials to further clarify this topic.
doi:10.5114/wo.2014.42725
PMCID: PMC4068819  PMID: 24966793
18F-FDG-PET/CT; 99mTc- methylene diphosphonate bone scintigraphy; bone metastases; non-small cell lung cancer
17.  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
18.  The Procalcitonin And Survival Study (PASS) – A Randomised multi-center investigator-initiated trial to investigate whether daily measurements biomarker Procalcitonin and pro-active diagnostic and therapeutic responses to abnormal Procalcitonin levels, can improve survival in intensive care unit patients. Calculated sample size (target population): 1000 patients 
Background
Sepsis and complications to sepsis are major causes of mortality in critically ill patients. Rapid treatment of sepsis is of crucial importance for survival of patients. The infectious status of the critically ill patient is often difficult to assess because symptoms cannot be expressed and signs may present atypically. The established biological markers of inflammation (leucocytes, C-reactive protein) may often be influenced by other parameters than infection, and may be unacceptably slowly released after progression of an infection. At the same time, lack of a relevant antimicrobial therapy in an early course of infection may be fatal for the patient. Specific and rapid markers of bacterial infection have been sought for use in these patients.
Methods
Multi-centre randomized controlled interventional trial. Powered for superiority and non-inferiority on all measured end points. Complies with, "Good Clinical Practice" (ICH-GCP Guideline (CPMP/ICH/135/95, Directive 2001/20/EC)). Inclusion: 1) Age ≥ 18 years of age, 2) Admitted to the participating intensive care units, 3) Signed written informed consent.
Exclusion: 1) Known hyper-bilirubinaemia. or hypertriglyceridaemia, 2) Likely that safety is compromised by blood sampling, 3) Pregnant or breast feeding.
Computerized Randomisation: Two arms (1:1), n = 500 per arm: Arm 1: standard of care. Arm 2: standard of care and Procalcitonin guided diagnostics and treatment of infection.
Primary Trial Objective: To address whether daily Procalcitonin measurements and immediate diagnostic and therapeutic response on day-to-day changes in procalcitonin can reduce the mortality of critically ill patients.
Discussion
For the first time ever, a mortality-endpoint, large scale randomized controlled trial with a biomarker-guided strategy compared to the best standard of care, is conducted in an Intensive care setting. Results will, with a high statistical power answer the question: Can the survival of critically ill patients be improved by actively using biomarker procalcitonin in the treatment of infections? 700 critically ill patients are currently included of 1000 planned (June 2008). Two interim analyses have been passed without any safety or futility issues, and the third interim analysis is soon to take place. Trial registration number at clinicaltrials.gov: Id. nr.: NCT00271752).
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-91
PMCID: PMC2491622  PMID: 18620598
19.  The Clinical Usefulness of 99mTc HMPAO Leukocyte/99mTc Phytate Bone Marrow Scintigraphy for Diagnosis of Prosthetic Knee Infection: A Preliminary Study 
Purpose
The preferred radionuclide imaging procedure for diagnosing prosthetic joint infection is combined radiolabeled leukocyte/99mTc sulfur colloid bone marrow scintigraphy, which has an accuracy of over 90 %. Unfortunately, sulfur colloid is no longer available in South Korea. In this study, we evaluated the usefulness of 99mTc phytate, a substitute for 99mTc sulfur colloid, when combined with radiolabeled leukocyte scintigraphy in suspected prosthetic knee infections.
Methods
Eleven patients (nine women, two men; mean age 72 ± 6 years) with painful knee prostheses and a suspicion of infection underwent both 99mTc HMPAO leukocyte scintigraphy (LS) and 99mTc phytate bone marrow scintigraphy (BMS). The combined images were interpreted as positive for infection when radioactivity in the LS at the site of clinical interest clearly exceeded that of the BMS (discordant); they were interpreted as negative when the increased activity in the LS was consistent with an increased activity in the BMS (concordant). The final diagnosis was made with microbiological or intraoperative findings and a clinical follow-up of at least 12 months.
Results
Five of eleven patients were diagnosed as having an infected prosthesis. The overall sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value (NPV), and diagnostic accuracy of the combined LS/BMS were 100 %, 83 %, 83 %, 100 % and 91 %, respectively.
Conclusion
We find that combined 99mTc HMPAO LS/99mTc phytate BMS shows comparable diagnostic performance to other studies utilizing sulfur colloid. Combined 99mTc HMPAO LS/99mTc phytate BMS is therefore expected to be an acceptable alternative to combined radiolabeled LS/99mTc sulfur colloid BMS for diagnosing prosthetic knee infections.
doi:10.1007/s13139-012-0164-6
PMCID: PMC4043061  PMID: 24900071
Prosthetic knee infection; 99mTc HMPAO leukocyte scintigraphy; Bone marrow scintigraphy; 99mTc phytate
20.  18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography in the staging and prognosis of T cell lymphoma 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2013;54(10):2163-2167.
We previously reported that 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scan (FDG-PET) is almost universally positive in patients with T cell lymphoma. In the present analysis we examined the impact of FDG-PET on the initial staging of peripheral T cell lymphomas (PTCLs), and the prognostic value of interim FDG-PET. This retrospective analysis identified patients with mature T or natural killer (NK) lymphomas who had PET scans as part of initial staging or staging at relapse [(n = 95) (staging cohort)] in the PTCL database at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A subset of these patients had repeat PET for interim restaging during initial therapy with curative intent [(n = 50) (interim restaging cohort)]. The frequency of specific T cell histologies included in this analysis were: PTCL not otherwise specified (NOS) (n = 35); angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma (AITL) (n = 17); anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), ALK-1+ (n = 11) and ALK-1− (n = 12); adult T cell lymphoma/leukemia (ATLL) (n = 7); NK/T cell lymphoma (NKTCL) (n = 10); and enteropathy-associated T cell lymphoma (EATL) (n = 3). In the staging cohort, 77 patients were newly diagnosed, and 18 had relapsed disease. Pretreatment FDG-PET was positive in 96% of patients. PET identified additional disease sites in 47/95 patients (50%) when added to conventional staging. Most frequently identified additional sites were: other nodal (n = 24); bone (n = 10); skin (n = 8); nasopharynx (n = 4); spleen (n = 3); and lung (n = 2). However, FDG-PET modified computed tomography (CT)-based staging in only 5/95 patients (5.2%): two patients were upstaged and three patients were downstaged. FDG-PET-based staging did not alter planned treatment for any patient. Interim restaging with PET was performed after a median of 4 cycles of chemotherapy. In this cohort, treatment regimens included cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone CHOP (n = 19); CHOP/ifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide (ICE) (n = 26); and other (n = 7). Subsequently, 29 patients were consolidated with either autologous (n = 22) or allogeneic (n = 7) stem cell transplant. After a median follow-up of 3.4 years for surviving patients, those with negative interim PET had superior progression-free survival (PFS) compared to patients with positive interim PET (p = 0.03). There were no differences in overall survival (OS). In PTCL, FDG-PET commonly identifies additional sites of disease but infrequently impacts CT-based staging and does not influence therapy. Interim FDG-PET may predict for PFS. FDG-PET should be integrated into prospective trials to confirm these findings.
doi:10.3109/10428194.2013.767901
PMCID: PMC3915724  PMID: 23369041
Lymphoma and Hodgkin disease; FDG-PET; T cell lymphoma; prognosis; staging
21.  Novel esophageal squamous cell carcinoma bone metastatic clone isolated by scintigraphy, X ray and micro PET/CT 
AIM: To establish a Chinese esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cell line with high bone metastasis potency using 99mTc-methylene diphosphonate (99mTc-MDP) micro-pinhole scintigraphy, X ray and micro-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for exploring the mechanism of occurrence and development in esophageal cancer.
METHODS: The cells came from a BALB/c nu/nu immunodeficient mouse, and oncogenic tumor tissue was from a surgical specimen from a 61-year-old male patient with ESCC. The cell growth curve was mapped and analysis of chromosome karyotype was performed. Approximately 1 × 106 oncogenic cells were injected into the left cardiac ventricle of immunodeficient mice. The bone metastatic lesions of tumor-bearing mice were detected by 99mTc-MDP scintigraphy, micro-PET/CT and X-ray, and were resected from the mice under deep anesthesia. The bone metastatic cells in the lesions were used for culture and for repeated intracardiac inoculation. This in vivo/in vitro experimental metastasis study was repeated for four cycles. All of the suspicious bone sites were confirmed by pathology. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to compare the gene expression in the parental cells and in the bone metastatic clone.
RESULTS: The surgical specimen was implanted subcutaneously in immunodeficient mice and the tumorigenesis rate was 100%. First-passage oncogenic cells were named CEK-Sq-1. The chromosome karyotype analysis of the cell line was hypotriploid. The bone metastasis rate went from 20% with the first-passage oncogenic cells via intracardiac inoculation to 90% after four cycles. The established bone metastasis clone named CEK-Sq-1BM had a high potential to metastasize in bone, including mandible, humerus, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, scapula and femur. The bone metastasis lesions were successfully detected by micro-pinhole bone scintigraphy, micro-PET/CT, and X-ray. The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of the micro-pinhole scintigraphy, X-ray, and micro-PET/CT imaging examinations were: 89.66%/32%/80%, 88.2%/100%/89.2%, and 88.75%/77.5%/87.5%, respectively. Some gene expression difference was found between parental and bone metastasis cells.
CONCLUSION: This newly established Chinese ESCC cell line and animal model may provide a useful tool for the study of the pathogenesis and development of esophageal carcinoma.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i4.1030
PMCID: PMC3921526  PMID: 24574775
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Cell line; Bone metastasis; Molecular imaging; Real-time polymerase chain reaction
22.  Clinical utility of fluoride-18 positron emission tomography/CT in temporomandibular disorder with osteoarthritis: comparisons with 99mTc-MDP bone scan 
Dentomaxillofacial Radiology  2013;42(2):29292350.
Objectives:
The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical utility of fluoride-18 positron emission tomography (18F-PET)/CT with that of conventional 99mTc-methylene diphosphonate (MDP) bone scan in temporomandibular disorder (TMD) with osteoarthritis.
Methods:
24 patients with TMD who underwent both 18F-PET/CT and 99mTc-MDP bone scans for diagnostic work-up were enrolled. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ)-to-skull uptake ratio, TMJ-to-muscle uptake ratio and TMJ-to-spine uptake ratio on 18F-PET/CT and the TMJ uptake ratio on bone scan were measured.
Results:
Of the 48 TMJs in 24 patients, 35 TMJs were diagnosed as TMD with osteoarthritis, 8 TMJs as TMD with anterior disc displacement (ADD), and the remaining 5 TMJs showed no evidence of TMD (NED). All three uptake ratios on 18F-PET/CT and the TMJ uptake ratio on the bone scan tended to be higher in TMD with osteoarthritis than in TMD with ADD or NED. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis for detecting TMD with osteoarthritis indicated that the TMJ-to-skull uptake ratio, TMJ-to-muscle uptake ratio and TMJ-to-spine uptake ratio on PET/CT (0.819, 0.771 and 0.813, respectively) showed higher area under the ROC curve value than the TMJ ratio on bone scan (0.714). The TMJ-to-skull uptake ratio on PET/CT showed the highest sensitivity (89%) and accuracy (81%) of all uptake ratios.
Conclusions:
18F-PET/CT can help diagnose TMD with osteoarthritis with superior diagnostic ability and is a suitable alternative modality to a conventional 99mTc-MDP bone scan.
doi:10.1259/dmfr/29292350
PMCID: PMC3699022  PMID: 23393302
positron emission tomography; temporomandibular joint; osteoarthritis; bone scan
23.  Stress Echocardiography 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"> 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 stress echocardiography (ECHO) in the diagnosis of patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to coronary angiography (CA).
Stress Echocardiography
Stress ECHO is a non-invasive technology that images the heart using ultrasound. It is one of the most commonly employed imaging techniques for investigating a variety of cardiac abnormalities in both community and hospital settings. A complete ECHO exam includes M-mode, 2-dimensional (2-D) images and Doppler imaging.
In order to diagnosis CAD and assess whether myocardial ischemia is present, images obtained at rest are compared to those obtained during or immediately after stress. The most commonly used agents used to induce stress are exercise and pharmacological agents such as dobutamine and dipyridamole. The hallmark of stress-induced myocardial ischemia is worsening of wall motion abnormalities or the development of new wall motion abnormalities. A major challenge for stress ECHO is that the interpretation of wall motion contractility and function is subjective. This leads to inter-observer variability and reduced reproducibility. Further, it is estimated that approximately 30% of patients have sub-optimal stress ECHO exams. To overcome this limitation, contrast agents for LV opacification have been developed.
Although stress ECHO is a relatively easy to use technology that poses only a low risk of adverse events compared to other imaging technologies, it may potentially be overused and/or misused in CAD diagnosis. Several recent advances have been made focusing on quantitative methods for assessment, improved image quality and enhanced portability, however, evidence on the effectiveness and clinical utility of these enhancements is limited.
Evidence-Based Analysis
Research Questions
What is the diagnostic accuracy of stress ECHO for the diagnosis of patients with suspected CAD compared to the reference standard of CA?
What is the clinical utility1 of stress ECHO?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on August 28, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2004 until August 21, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any relevant studies not identified through the search.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, retrospective analyses
Minimum sample size of 20 enrolled patients
Comparison to CA (reference standard)
Definition of CAD specified as either ≥50%, ≥70% or ≥75% coronary artery stenosis on CA
Reporting accuracy data on individual patients (rather than accuracy data stratified by segments of the heart)
English
Human
Exclusion Criteria
Duplicate studies
Non-systematic reviews, case reports
Grey literature (e.g., conference abstracts)
Insufficient data for independent calculation of sensitivity and specificity
Use of ECHO for purposes other than diagnosis of CAD (e.g., arrhythmia, valvular disease, mitral stenosis, pre-operative risk of MI)
Transesophageal ECHO since its primary use is for non-CAD indications such as endocarditis, intracardiac thrombi, valvular disorders
Only resting ECHO performed
Outcomes of Interest
Accuracy outcomes (sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value)
Costs
Summary of Findings
Given the vast amount of published literature on stress ECHO, it was decided to focus on the studies contained in the comprehensive 2007 review by Heijenbrok-Kal et al. (1) as a basis for the MAS evidence-based analysis. In applying our inclusion and exclusion criteria, 105 observational studies containing information on 13,035 patients were included. Six studies examined stress ECHO with adenosine, 26 with dipyridamole and 77 with dobutamine, the latter being the most commonly used pharmacological stress ECHO agent in Ontario. A further 18 studies employed exercise as the stressor.2 The prevalence of CAD ranged from 19% to 94% with a mean estimated prevalence of 70%. Based on the results of these studies the following conclusions were made:
Based on the available evidence, stress ECHO is a useful imaging modality for the diagnosis of CAD in patients with suspected disease. The overall pooled sensitivity is 0.80 (95% CI: 0.77 – 0.82) and the pooled specificity is 0.84 (95% CI: 0.82 – 0.87) using CA as the reference standard. The AUC derived from the sROC curve is 0.895 and the DOR is 20.64.
For pharmacological stress, the pooled sensitivity is 0.79 (95% CI: 0.71 – 0.87) and the pooled specificity is 0.85 (95% CI: 0.83 – 0.88). When exercise is employed as the stress agent, the pooled sensitivity is 0.81 (95% CI: 0.76– 0.86) and the pooled specificity is 0.79 (95% CI: 0.71 – 0.87). Although pharmacological stress and exercise stress would be indicated for different patient populations based on ability to exercise there were no significant differences in sensitivity and specificity.
Based on clinical experts, diagnostic accuracy on stress ECHO depends on the patient population, the expertise of the interpreter and the quality of the image.
PMCID: PMC3377563  PMID: 23074412
24.  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
25.  Stress Echocardiography with Contrast 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 this report is to compare echocardiography (ECHO) performed with microsphere contrast agents (contrast echocardiography) to ECHO performed without contrast and to single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).
Contrast ECHO
Contrast agents for ECHO have been available since the technology was first introduced in the 1990s. Composed of tiny ‘microbubbles’ of an inert gas encapsulated within a lipid, protein, or polymer coat, these agents act to scatter incident ultrasound waves at the gas/liquid interface to increase the strength of a returning ECHO signal. When injected into a patient’s arm, they are transported throughout even the smallest capillaries to greatly enhance the blood pool signal, which would otherwise appear black on conventional two dimensional ECHO. The enhanced signal then helps cardiologists to determine what parts of the patient’s heart muscle are poorly perfused.
The first commercially available microsphere contrast agent was Albunex, which received approval by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States in 1994. This original microsphere agent was limited by its rapid gas volume loss which caused a decline in the ultrasound signal. It worked well in the right chambers of the heart, but dissolved when passing through the pulmonary capillaries and so was unable to provide contrast in the left side. Second generation agents employed different gases that prolonged the life of the microbubbles within the circulation and increased the reproducibility of results.
Today, the most common use for contrast ECHO is to enhance the definition of the left ventricular (LV) endocardial border for cases of LV opacification. The aim of contrast ECHO is to provide better quantification of LV volume and assessment of LV wall motion than ECHO alone. The newest area of development in the research of contrast ECHO is myocardial perfusion assessment, also known as myocardial contrast ECHO. Theoretically, since myocardial ischemia and infarction affect both perfusion and contractility (wall motion), contrast ECHO could be an ideal non-invasive imaging test as it could assess both perfusion and contractility, simultaneously and in real time.
Notably, critically ill patients on ventilators and those with lung problems are more likely to generate poor or ‘suboptimal’ echocardiograms than other patients, as are obese patients and those who’ve undergone recent chest operations. Contrast agents can potentially be used in 10% to 15% of all studies and in approximately 33% of stress tests due to from such suboptimal echocardiograms. Stress can be induced either pharmaceutically (e.g., through dobutamine, dipyrimidamole, adenosine) or with exercise. Generally, contrast agents are used more in pharmaceutical stress echocardiograms than in exercise stress echocardiograms.
Evidence-Based Analysis
This MAS analysis sought to address the following research questions:
Is contrast ECHO more effective than 99-technetium SPECT in terms its ability to detect CAD?
What is the effectiveness of contrast ECHO in assessing patients with suboptimal echocardiograms?
Is contrast ECHO safe compared to other cardiac imaging modalities?
Is contrast ECHO cost-effective compared to other cardiac imaging modalities?
Literature Search
Literature searches were performed on June 22, 2009 and July 27, 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 until June 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 examined for any relevant studies not identified through the search.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, retrospective analyses
Minimum sample size of 20 enrolled patients (human only)
The contrast agent used in the study must be licensed by Health Canada
Comparison to reference standard (coronary angiography for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease)
Reporting accuracy data on individual patients (rather than accuracy data stratified by segments of the heart)
English language
Exclusion Criteria
Non-systematic reviews, case reports
Grey literature (e.g. conference abstracts)
Outcomes of Interest
Accuracy outcomes (sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value)
Adverse events
Costs
Summary of Findings
Twenty-three observational studies were identified that assessed the diagnostic accuracy of contrast ECHO for the diagnosis of CAD. All of these studies used stress ECHO with contrast. In addition, nine retrospective chart reviews were identified, which assessed the safety of contrast ECHO at rest or stress. Based on the results of these studies the following conclusions were made:
Stress ECHO with contrast has a higher diagnostic accuracy in the diagnosis of CAD than stress ECHO (without contrast).
Stress ECHO with contrast seems to have a similar diagnostic accuracy to 99 technetium SPECT.
The addition of contrast to ECHO in patients with suboptimal ECHO results significantly improves interpretability of the results.
There is not a statistically significantly higher mortality rate in patients who receive contrast compared to those who do not.
PMCID: PMC3377574  PMID: 23074387

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