Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography vs Functional Stress Testing for Patients With Suspected Coronary Artery Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Nov 1;177(11):1623-1631. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.4772.


Importance: Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) is a new approach for the diagnosis of anatomical coronary artery disease (CAD), but it is unclear how CCTA performs compared with the standard approach of functional stress testing.

Objective: To compare the clinical effectiveness of CCTA with that of functional stress testing for patients with suspected CAD.

Data sources: A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed and MEDLINE for English-language randomized clinical trials of CCTA published from January 1, 2000, to July 10, 2016.

Study selection: Researchers selected randomized clinical trials that compared a primary strategy of CCTA with that of functional stress testing for patients with suspected CAD and reported data on patient clinical events and changes in therapy.

Data extraction and synthesis: Two reviewers independently extracted data from and assessed the quality of the trials. This analysis followed the PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses and used the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias in randomized trials. The Mantel-Haenszel method was used to conduct the primary analysis. Summary relative risks were calculated with a random-effects model.

Main outcomes and measures: The outcomes of interest were all-cause mortality, cardiac hospitalization, myocardial infarction, invasive coronary angiography, coronary revascularization, new CAD diagnoses, and change in prescription for aspirin and statins.

Results: Thirteen trials were included, with 10 315 patients in the CCTA arm and 9777 patients in the functional stress testing arm who were followed up for a mean duration of 18 months. There were no statistically significant differences between CCTA and functional stress testing in death (1.0% vs 1.1%; risk ratio [RR], 0.93; 95% CI, 0.71-1.21) or cardiac hospitalization (2.7% vs 2.7%; RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.79-1.21), but CCTA was associated with a reduction in the incidence of myocardial infarction (0.7% vs 1.1%; RR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.53-0.96). Patients undergoing CCTA were significantly more likely to undergo invasive coronary angiography (11.7% vs 9.1%; RR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.12-1.59) and revascularization (7.2% vs 4.5%; RR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.43-2.43). They were also more likely to receive a diagnosis of new CAD and to have initiated aspirin or statin therapy.

Conclusions and relevance: Compared with functional stress testing, CCTA is associated with a reduced incidence of myocardial infarction but an increased incidence of invasive coronary angiography, revascularization, CAD diagnoses, and new prescriptions for aspirin and statins. Despite these differences, CCTA is not associated with a reduction in mortality or cardiac hospitalizations.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Computed Tomography Angiography*
  • Coronary Angiography*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Humans