Potential Clinical and Economic Consequences of Noncardiac Incidental Findings on Cardiac Computed Tomography

Published on Oct 1, 2009in Journal of the American College of Cardiology18.639
· DOI :10.1016/j.jacc.2009.06.026
Jimmy MacHaalany8
Estimated H-index: 8
(U of O: University of Ottawa),
Yeung Yam17
Estimated H-index: 17
(U of O: University of Ottawa)
+ 4 AuthorsBenjamin J.W. Chow39
Estimated H-index: 39
(U of O: University of Ottawa)
Objectives We sought to determine the incidence, clinical significance, and potential financial impact of noncardiac incidental findings (IF) identified with cardiac computed tomography (CT). Background Cardiac CT is gaining acceptance and may lead to the frequent discovery of extracardiac IF. Methods Consecutive patients undergoing cardiac CT had noncardiac structures evaluated after full field of view (32 to 50 cm) reconstruction. IF were categorized as clinically significant (CS), indeterminate, or clinically insignificant. Patient follow-up was performed by telephone, and verified with hospital records and/or communication with physicians. Results Of 966 patients (58 ± 16 years of age, 55.4% men, >98% outpatients), 401 (41.5%) patients had noncardiac IF. A total of 12 (1.2%) patients had CS findings, and 68 (7.0%) patients had indeterminate findings. At follow-up (18.4 ± 7.6 months), none of the indeterminate findings became CS. Although 3 patients with indeterminate findings were diagnosed with malignant lesions, they were unrelated to the IF. After adjusting for age, IF were not an independent predictor of noncardiac death. Noncardiac death and cancer death in patients with and without IF were not statistically different. One patient suffered a major complication related to the investigation of an IF. The total direct cost associated with investigating IF was Canadian 57,596 (U.S. 3,035). Conclusions Although noncardiac IF are common, clinically significant or indeterminate IF are less prevalent. Rates of death were similar in patients with and without IF, and IF was not an independent predictor of noncardiac death. The investigation of IF is not without cost or risk. Larger studies are required to assess the potential mortality benefit of identifying IF.
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