Objective: To describe the diffusion of cardiac catheterization technologies and time trends of their use according to setting and geographic region in Germany during a 13-year period. It is hypothesized that the cardiac catheterization technology has matured from an experimental state to a broadly accepted technology.
Methods: Data come from the annual survey of the German Society for Cardiovascular Research. All German cardiac catheterization units are requested to provide data on volume and type of catheterization procedures. Data are available from 1984 to 1996. Number and type of procedure, type of unit, diagnoses, and complications are all recorded. The overall response rate is 90%, on average.
Results: The total number of catheterization units was 324 in 1996, or an average of 3.69 units per 1 million population. In 1996, all of the East German Länder and districts were below average. Utilization of cardiac catheterization procedures increased exponentially during the study period. The number of angiographies rose from about 45,000 in 1984 to more than 450,000 in 1996; the number of angioplasties increased almost by a factor of 50 to 125,000 procedures in 1996. Inverse correlations between the rates per million population of either coronary angiographies or PTCAs and mortality rates from ischemic heart disease were observed at the level of the German Länder.
Conclusion: Further studies taking patient characteristics, long-term outcomes, and other factors in account are necessary to clarify the large geographic variations and the negative relationship between utilization rates and coronary heart disease mortality found in this study.