This document outlines the usefulness of available diagnostic imaging for patients without known coronary artery disease and at low probability for having coronary artery disease who do not present with classic signs, symptoms, or electrocardiographic abnormalities indicating acute coronary syndrome but rather with nonspecific chest pain leading to a differential diagnosis, including pulmonary, gastrointestinal, or musculoskeletal pathologies. A number of imaging modalities are available to evaluate the broad spectrum of possible pathologies in these patients, such as chest radiography, multidetector CT, MRI, ventilation-perfusion scans, cardiac perfusion scintigraphy, transesophageal and transthoracic echocardiography, PET, spine and rib radiography, barium esophageal and upper gastrointestinal studies, and abdominal ultrasound. It is considered appropriate to start the assessment of these patients with a low-cost, low-risk diagnostic test such as a chest x-ray. Contrast-enhanced gated cardiac and ungated thoracic multidetector CT as well as transthoracic echocardiography are also usually considered as appropriate in the evaluation of these patients as a second step if necessary. A number of rest and stress single-photon emission CT myocardial perfusion imaging, ventilation-perfusion scanning, aortic and chest MR angiographic, and more specific x-ray and abdominal examinations may be appropriate as a third layer of testing, whereas MRI of the heart or coronary arteries and invasive testing such as transesophageal echocardiography or selective coronary angiography are not considered appropriate in these patients. Given the low risk of these patients, it is mandated to minimize radiation exposure as much as possible using advanced and appropriate testing protocols. The ACR Appropriateness Criteria® are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed every 2 years by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and review include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer-reviewed journals and the application of a well established consensus methodology (modified Delphi) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures by the panel. In those instances in which evidence is lacking or not definitive, expert opinion may be used to recommend imaging or treatment.
Copyright © 2012 American College of Radiology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.