One of the most inefficient things in medicine is the chest pain admission — a 24 hour hospital stay, three sets of labs, and then often an echo, stress test and/or catheterization. The symptoms are too important to be ignored, but for every discovery of blocked coronary vessels, there are far too many cases of reflux or musculoskeletal pain.
A lot of companies are developing products to reduce this ineffeciency — one promising one is CardiArc’s SPECT scanner, which just received FDA marketing approval:
CardiArc has developed and patented a new, smaller and faster technology for cardiac single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with twice the resolution of existing devices. The CardiArc(R) system is as small as an executive chair, runs on 110 Volts AC and fits easily in a 6-by-7 foot exam room without remodeling. The device has no visible moving parts and uses solid-state CZT technology (cadmium zinc telluride). Patients sit upright, without rotating or holding arms over their heads. Scan times are very fast, ranging from 2 to 6 minutes at physician discretion.
“The CardiArc(R) imaging system provides a high level of patient comfort and much clearer images for the cardiologist, in less than half the time of existing SPECT devices,” said Jack Juni, MD, the inventor, chairman and CTO of CardiArc(R). “This will result in more cost-effective and better cardiac care with optimal diagnostic and prognostic accuracy.”
…In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers found that incorporating a heart imaging procedure into the initial evaluation strategy of patients suspected of having a heart attack could help physicians more accurately establish which patients were, in fact, suffering from acute cardiac ischemia (an inadequate supply of blood to heart muscle, caused by partial or total blockage of an artery). This, in turn, helped to cut down unnecessary hospitalizations, without decreasing appropriate admissions of patients with acute ischemia.
That study, conducted using devices with much longer imaging times and much lower resolution than CardiArc’s new device, showed that SPECT imaging is an important new tool for emergency department physicians making admitting decisions about patients suspected of having a heart attack. For patients with possible heart disease, the technology can mean early diagnosis and for those evaluated for heart attacks, fewer hospitalizations.