Computed tomographic coronary artery calcium assessment for evaluating chest pain in the emergency department: Long-term outcome of a prospective blind study

Dennis A. Laudon, Thomas R. Behrenbeck, Christina M. Wood, Kent R. Bailey, Christopher M. Callahan, Jerome F. Breen, Larry F. Vukov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine the long-term outcome of computed tomographic (CT) quantification of coronary artery calcium (CAC) used as a triage tool for patients presenting with chest pain to an emergency department (ED). PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients (men aged 30-62 years and women aged 30-65 years) with chest pain and low-to-moderate probability of coronary artery disease underwent both conventional ED chest pain evaluation and CT CAC assessment prospectively. Patients' physicians were blinded to the CAC results. The results of the conventional evaluation were compared with CAC findings on CT, and the long-term outcome in patients undergoing CT CAC assessment was established. Primary end points (acute coronary syndrome, death, fatal or nonfatal non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, fatal or nonfatal ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction) and secondary outcomes (coronary artery bypass grafting, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, coronary stenting, or a combination thereof) were obtained when the patient was dismissed from the ED or hospital and then at 30 days, 1 year, and 5 years. RESULTS: Of the 263 study patients, 133 (51%) had a CAC score of zero. This absence of CAC correlated strongly with the likelihood of noncardiac chest pain. Among 133 patients with a CAC score of zero, only 1 (<1%) had cardiac chest pain. Conversely, of the 31 patients shown to have cardiac chest pain, 30 (97%) had evidence of CAC on CT. When a CAC cutoff score of 36 was used, as suggested by receiver operating characteristic analysis, sensitivity was 90%; specificity, 85%; positive predictive value, 44%; and negative predictive value, 99%. During long-term follow-up, patients without CAC experienced no cardiac events at 30 days, 1 year, and 5 years. CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that CT CAC assessment is a powerful adjunct in chest pain evaluation for the population at low-tointermediate risk. Absent or minimal CAC in this population makes cardiac chest pain extremely unlikely. The absence of CAC suggests an excellent long-term (5-year) prognosis, with no primary or secondary cardiac outcomes ocurring in study patients at 5-year follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-322
Number of pages9
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • ACS = acute coronary syndrome
  • CAC = coronary artery calcium
  • CAD = coronary artery disease
  • CI = confidence interval
  • CT = computed tomography
  • CTA = CT angiography
  • ECG = electrocardiography
  • ED = emergency department
  • IQR = interquartile range

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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