Radiological inappropriateness in medical imaging leads to loss of resources and accumulation of avoidable population cancer risk. Aim of the study was to audit the appropriateness rate of different cardiac radiological examinations.
Methods and Principal Findings
With a retrospective, observational study we reviewed clinical records of 818 consecutive patients (67±12 years, 75% males) admitted from January 1-May 31, 2010 to the National Research Council – Tuscany Region Gabriele Monasterio Foundation cardiology division. A total of 940 procedures were audited: 250 chest x-rays (CXR); 240 coronary computed tomographies (CCT); 250 coronary angiographies (CA); 200 percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI). For each test, indications were rated on the basis of guidelines class of recommendation and level of evidence: definitely appropriate (A, including class I, appropriate, and class IIa, probably appropriate), uncertain (U, class IIb, probably inappropriate), or inappropriate (I, class III, definitely inappropriate). Appropriateness was suboptimal for all tests: CXR (A = 48%, U = 10%, I = 42%); CCT (A = 58%, U = 24%, I = 18%); CA (A = 45%, U = 25%, I = 30%); PCI (A = 63%, U = 15%, I = 22%). Top reasons for inappropriateness were: routine on hospital admission (70% of inappropriate CXR); first line application in asymptomatic low-risk patients (42% of CCT) or in patients with unchanged clinical status post-revascularization (20% of CA); PCI in patients either asymptomatic or with miscellaneous symptoms and without inducible ischemia on non-invasive testing (36% of inappropriate PCI).
Conclusion and Significance
Public healthcare system – with universal access paid for with public money – is haemorrhaging significant resources and accumulating avoidable long-term cancer risk with inappropriate cardiovascular imaging prevention.