April 18, 2012
Health Care, Medicine
American Society of Nuclear Cardiology
1. Don’t perform stress cardiac imaging or coronary angiography in patients without cardiac symptoms unless high-risk markers are present. Asymptomatic, low-risk patients account for up to 45% of inappropriate stress testing. Testing should be performed only when the following findings are present: diabetes in patients older than 40 years old, peripheral arterial disease, and greater than 2 percent yearly coronary heart disease event rate.
2. Don’t perform cardiac imaging for patients who are at low risk: Chest pain patients at low risk of cardiac death and myocardial infarction (based on history, physical exam, electrocardiograms and cardiac biomarkers) do not merit stress radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging or stress echocardiography as an initial testing strategy if they have a normal electrocardiogram (without baseline ST-abnormalities, left ventricular hypertrophy, pre-excitation, bundle branch block, intra-ventricular conduction delay, paced rhythm or on digoxin therapy) and are able to exercise.
3. Don’t perform radionuclide imaging as part of routine follow-up in asymptomatic patients: Performing stress radionuclide imaging in patients without symptoms on a serial or scheduled pattern (e.g., every one to two years or at a heart procedure anniversary) rarely results in any meaningful change in patient management. This practice may lead to unnecessary invasive procedures and excess radiation exposure without any proven impact on patients’ outcomes. An exception to this rule would be for patients more than five years after a bypass operation.
4. Don’t perform cardiac imaging as a pre-operative assessment in patients scheduled to undergo low- or intermediate-risk non-cardiac surgery: Non-invasive testing is not useful for patients undergoing low-risk non-cardiac surgery or with no cardiac symptoms or clinical risk factors undergoing intermediate-risk non-cardiac surgery. These types of testing do not change the patient’s clinical management or outcomes and will result in increased costs. Therefore, it is not appropriate to perform cardiac imaging procedures for non-cardiac surgery risk assessment in patients with no cardiac symptoms, clinical risk factors or who have moderate to good functional capacity.
5. Use methods to reduce radiation exposure in cardiac imaging, whenever possible, including not performing such tests when limited benefits are likely. The key step to reduce or eliminate radiation exposure is appropriate selection of any test or procedure for a specific person, in keeping with medical society recommendations, such as appropriate use criteria. Health care providers should incorporate new methodologies in cardiac imaging to reduce patient exposure to radiation while maintaining high-quality test results.
April 14, 2012
American College of Radiology
- Don’t do imaging for uncomplicated headache. Imaging headache patients absent specific risk factors for structural disease is not likely to change management or improve outcome. Those patients with a significant likelihood of structural disease requiring immediate attention are detected by clinical screens that have been validated in many settings. Many studies and clinical practice guidelines concur. Also, incidental findings lead to additional medical procedures and expense that do not improve patient well-being.
- Don’t image for suspected pulmonary embolism (PE) without moderate or high pre-test probability. While deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and PE are relatively common clinically, they are rare in the absence of elevated blood d-Dimer levels and certain specific risk factors. Imaging, particularly computed tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography, is a rapid, accurate and widely available test, but has limited value in patients who are very unlikely, based on serum and clinical criteria, to have significant value. Imaging is helpful to confirm or exclude PE only for such patients, not for patients with low pre-test probability of PE.
- Avoid admission or preoperative chest x-rays for ambulatory patients with unremarkable history and physical exam. Performing routine admission or preoperative chest x-rays is not recommended for ambulatory patients without specific reasons suggested by the history and/or physical examination findings. Only 2 percent of such images lead to a change in management. Obtaining a chest radiograph is reasonable if acute cardiopulmonary disease is suspected or there is a history of chronic stable cardiopulmonary disease in a patient older than age 70 who has not had chest radiography within six months.
- Don’t do computed tomography (CT) for the evaluation of suspected appendicitis in children until after ultrasound has been considered as an option. Although CT is accurate in the evaluation of suspected appendicitis in the pediatric population, ultrasound is nearly as good in experienced hands. Since ultrasound will reduce radiation exposure, ultrasound is the preferred initial consideration for imaging examination in children. If the results of the ultrasound exam are equivocal, it may be followed by CT. This approach is cost-effective, reduces potential radiation risks and has excellent accuracy, with reported sensitivity and specificity of 94 percent.
- Don’t recommend follow-up imaging for clinically inconsequential adnexal cysts. Simple cysts and hemorrhagic cysts in women of reproductive age are almost always physiologic. Small simple cysts in postmenopausal women are common, and clinically inconsequential. Ovarian cancer, while typically cystic, does not arise from these benign-appearing cysts. After a good quality ultrasound in women of reproductive age, don’t recommend follow-up for a classic corpus luteum or simple cyst <5 cm in greatest diameter. Use 1 cm as a threshold for simple cysts in postmenopausal women.
April 13, 2012
American College of Physicians
- Don’t obtain screening exercise electrocardiogram testing in individuals who are asymptomatic and at low risk for coronary heart disease. In asymptomatic individuals at low risk for coronary heart disease (10-year risk <10%) screening for coronary heart disease with exercise electrocardiography does not improve patient outcomes.
- Don’t obtain imaging studies in patients with non-specific low back pain. In patients with back pain that cannot be attributed to a specific disease or spinal abnormality following a history and physical examination (e.g., non-specific low back pain), imaging with plain radiography, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) does not improve patient outcomes.
- In the evaluation of simple syncope and a normal neurological examination, don’t obtain brain imaging studies (CT or MRI). In patients with witnessed syncope but with no suggestion of seizure and no report of other neurologic symptoms or signs, the likelihood of a central nervous system (CNS) cause of the event is extremely low and patient outcomes are not improved with brain imaging studies.
- In patients with low pretest probability of venous thromboembolism (VTE), obtain a high-sensitive D-dimer measurement as the initial diagnostic test; don’t obtain imaging studies as the initial diagnostic test. In patients with low pretest probability of VTE as defined by the Wells prediction rules, a negative high-sensitivity D-dimer measurement effectively excludes VTE and the need for further imaging studies.
- Don’t obtain preoperative chest radiography in the absence of a clinical suspicion for intrathoracic pathology. In the absence of cardiopulmonary symptoms, preoperative chest radiography rarely provides any meaningful changes in management or improved patient outcomes.