Early computed tomography coronary angiography in patients with suspected acute coronary syndrome: randomised controlled trial

BMJ. 2021 Sep 29;374:n2106. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n2106.


Objectives: To establish if the use of early computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography improves one year clinical outcomes in patients presenting to the emergency department with acute chest pain and at intermediate risk of acute coronary syndrome and subsequent clinical events.

Design: Randomised controlled trial.

Setting: 37 hospitals in the UK.

Participants: Adults with suspected or a provisional diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome and one or more of previous coronary heart disease, raised levels of cardiac troponin, or abnormal electrocardiogram.

Interventions: Early CT coronary angiography and standard of care compared with standard of care only.

Main outcome measures: Primary endpoint was all cause death or subsequent type 1 or 4b myocardial infarction at one year.

Results: Between 23 March 2015 and 27 June 2019, 1748 participants (mean age 62 years (standard deviation 13), 64% men, mean global registry of acute coronary events (GRACE) score 115 (standard deviation 35)) were randomised to receive early CT coronary angiography (n=877) or standard of care only (n=871). Median time from randomisation to CT coronary angiography was 4.2 (interquartile range 1.6-21.6) hours. The primary endpoint occurred in 51 (5.8%) participants randomised to CT coronary angiography and 53 (6.1%) participants who received standard of care only (adjusted hazard ratio 0.91 (95% confidence interval 0.62 to 1.35), P=0.65). Invasive coronary angiography was performed in 474 (54.0%) participants randomised to CT coronary angiography and 530 (60.8%) participants who received standard of care only (adjusted hazard ratio 0.81 (0.72 to 0.92), P=0.001). There were no overall differences in coronary revascularisation, use of drug treatment for acute coronary syndrome, or subsequent preventive treatments between the two groups. Early CT coronary angiography was associated with a slightly longer time in hospital (median increase 0.21 (95% confidence interval 0.05 to 0.40) days from a median hospital stay of 2.0 to 2.2 days).

Conclusions: In intermediate risk patients with acute chest pain and suspected acute coronary syndrome, early CT coronary angiography did not alter overall coronary therapeutic interventions or one year clinical outcomes, but reduced rates of invasive angiography while modestly increasing length of hospital stay. These findings do not support the routine use of early CT coronary angiography in intermediate risk patients with acute chest pain and suspected acute coronary syndrome.

Trial registration: ISRCTN19102565, NCT02284191.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / etiology
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / mortality
  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Chest Pain / complications
  • Chest Pain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / methods*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Assessment
  • Standard of Care
  • Time Factors

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02284191
  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN19102565