The value of Coronary Computed Tomography Angiogram (CTA) exams are being recognized by hospitals across the United States. The results have been impressive and in some cases, lives are even being saved.
Coronary CTA examinations are utilized to diagnose coronary artery disease through the examination of calcium deposits or plaque within the artery walls. These studies use sophisticated computed tomography (CT) imaging technology to retrieve 3D images of the heart and associated blood vessels. During the exam, contrast material or dye is injected in the arm of the patient.
Comparing Cardiac Catheterization with Coronary CTAs
Traditionally, a coronary angiogram, otherwise known as a cardiac catheterization procedure, has been the standard mechanism for diagnosing coronary artery disease. However, this is an invasive procedure that requires a patient to be in the hospital the entire day or overnight due to the associated set-up and recovery time.
A strong case has been made for including coronary CTAs as part of standard hospital protocols because these exams are noninvasive and can be performed much faster than cardiac catheterization procedures. The coronary CTA exams minimize risk and result in less patient discomfort. There is no need for sedation or general anesthesia. Research indicates that in patients with a high likelihood of coronary artery disease, both cardiac catheterization and coronary CTAs exams provided similar recommendations for the more complex treatment of revascularization. Coronary CTAs also have the potential to limit the number of patients that require the more invasive cardiac catheterization procedure. Coronary CTA programs also provide unique benefits within the emergency room.
Benefits of Coronary CTAs within Emergency Room Settings
Within the emergency room (ER) there is a continuous challenge of providing top cardiac care under incredible time pressure. Such obstacles are magnified within rural hospitals, due to their distance from medical centers which are more equipped for advanced cardiac intervention. Previously, when echocardiogram and ECGs diagnostics did not provide a clear-cut explanation for the patient’s cardiac condition, the only path was a catheterization procedure. As indicated, the cardiac catheterization puts the patient through a lengthy invasive procedure often unnecessarily. Going this route further stretches the ER’s limited resources and results in significantly greater costs for the hospital because of the time required and high rate of patient overnight stays.
Through coronary CTA studies, patients can be discharged within hours because cardiac catheterization procedures can be avoided entirely in most cases. Hospitals can utilize their existing CT equipment and radiology technicians for coronary CTA initiatives. Because existing equipment and personnel can be leveraged, the return on investment of such initiatives is high. The coronary CTA model has a clear place within the hospital because it provides improved patient care through more timely intervention at a significantly lower cost.
Coronary CTAs at Crossing Rivers Health
Coronary CTA studies can often explain cardiac issues that are not present using echocardiogram or electrocardiogram (ECG) diagnostics. Combined with a calcium score report, it is one of the premier tools to predict the risk of future heart attacks.
Crossing Rivers Health is a comprehensive community health center in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin that services patients in Southwest Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa. The use of coronary CTA diagnostics within its ER and for outpatient cases has facilitated improved patient care and cost reductions at Crossing Rivers Health.
“Implementing coronary CTAs within our facility has enabled us to improve overall patient care while reducing costs through faster diagnosis while reducing transfers, referrals and overnight stays. By leveraging our existing personnel and medical equipment we were able to rollout the program quickly and received significant benefits in a matter of months. We’ve partnered with Specialist Direct who assisted in developing our coronary CTA program and provides our coronary CTA study interpretations. Specialist Direct has been a great partner and is a key part of our ongoing success,” said Tim Clark, Director of Medical Imaging at Crossing Rivers Health.
“It been a pleasure collaborating with Crossing Rivers in the rollout of their coronary CTA program. This initiative has produced incredible results and we’ve been humbled that it has contributed to saving lives,” said W. Scott Rombach, CEO of Specialist Direct.
Watch the video below to hear how a coronary CTA performed at Crossing Rivers Health and interpreted by Specialist Direct saved Rich’s life.
Is your hospital interested in developing a coronary CTA program? Contact us today to learn how coronary CTAs can benefit your organization and patient population.