Analysis of Probability as an Aid in the Clinical Diagnosis of Coronary-Artery Disease

N Engl J Med. 1979 Jun 14;300(24):1350-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197906143002402.

Abstract

The diagnosis of coronary-artery disease has become increasingly complex. Many different results, obtained from tests with substantial imperfections, must be integrated into a diagnostic conclusion about the probability of disease in a given patient. To approach this problem in a practical manner, we reviewed the literature to estimate the pretest likelihood of disease (defined by age, sex and symptoms) and the sensitivity and specificity of four diagnostic tests: stress electrocardiography, cardiokymography, thallium scintigraphy and cardiac fluoroscopy. With this information, test results can be analyzed by use of Bayes' theorem of conditional probability. This approach has several advantages. It pools the diagnostic experience of many physicians ans integrates fundamental pretest clinical descriptors with many varying test results to summarize reproducibly and meaningfully the probability of angiographic coronary-artery disease. This approach also aids, but does not replace, the physician's judgment and may assit in decisions on cost effectiveness of tests.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Angina Pectoris / complications
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electrokymography
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability Theory
  • Probability*
  • Radioisotopes
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors
  • Thallium

Substances

  • Radioisotopes
  • Thallium