Clinical and economic outcomes assessment in nuclear cardiology

L. J. Shaw, D. D. Miller, D. S. Berman, R. Hachamovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The future of nuclear medicine procedures, as understood within our current economic climate, depends upon its ability to provide relevant clinical information at similar or lower comparative costs. With an ever-increasing emphasis on cost containment, outcome assessment forms the basis of preserving the quality of patient care. Today, outcomes assessment encompasses a wide array of subjects including clinical, economic, and humanistic (i.e., quality of life) outcomes. For nuclear cardiology, evidence-based medicine would require a threshold level of evidence in order to justify the added cost of any test in a patient's work-up. This evidence would include large multicenter, observational series as well as randomized trial data in sufficiently large and diverse patient populations. The new movement in evidence-based medicine is also being applied to the introduction of new technologies, in particular when comparative modalities exist. In the past 5 years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the quality of outcomes data published in nuclear cardiology. This includes the use of statistically rigorous risk-adjusted techniques as well as large populations (i.e., >500 patients) representing multiple diverse medical care settings. This has been the direct result of the development of multiple outcomes databases that have now amassed thousands of patients worth of data. One of the benefits of examining outcomes in large patient datasets is the ability to assess individual enpoints (e.g., cardiac death) as compared with smaller datasets that often assess combined endpoints (e.g., death, myocardial infarction, or unstable angina). New technologies for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease have contributed to the rising costs of care. In the United States and in Europe, costs of care have risen dramatically, consuming an ever-increasing amount of available resources. The overuse of diagnostic angiography often leads to unnecessary revascularization that does not lead to improvement in outcome. Thus, the potential exists that stress SPECT imaging, a highly effective diagnostic tool, could effect substantial change in reducing inappropriate use of an invasive procedure resulting in cost effective cardiac care. A synthesis of current economic evidence in gated SPECT imaging will be presented. In conclusion, a current state of the evidence review is presented on the clinical and economic data using nuclear cardiology imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-152
Number of pages15
JournalQuarterly Journal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Health care costs
  • Heart radionuclide imaging
  • Nuclear medicine, economics


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