Early diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction is important, but only 20% of emergency admissions for chest pain will actually have an acute myocardial infarction. High-sensitivity cardiac troponin assays may allow rapid rule out of myocardial infarction and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
To assess the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of high-sensitivity cardiac troponin assays for the management of adults presenting with acute chest pain, in particular for the early rule-out of acute myocardial infarction.
Sixteen databases were searched up to September 2019. Review methods followed published guidelines. Studies were assessed for quality using appropriate risk-of-bias tools. The bivariate model was used to estimate summary sensitivity and specificity for meta-analyses involving four or more studies; otherwise, random-effects logistic regression was used. The health economic analysis considered the long-term costs and quality-adjusted life-years associated with different troponin testing methods. The de novo model consisted of a decision tree and a state-transition cohort model. A lifetime time horizon (of 60 years) was used.
Thirty-seven studies (123 publications) were included in the review. The high-sensitivity cardiac troponin test strategies evaluated are defined by the combination of four factors (i.e. assay, number and timing of tests, and threshold concentration), resulting in a large number of possible combinations. Clinical opinion indicated a minimum clinically acceptable sensitivity of 97%. When considering single test strategies, only those using a threshold at or near to the limit of detection for the assay, in a sample taken at presentation, met the minimum clinically acceptable sensitivity criterion. The majority of the multiple test strategies that met this criterion comprised an initial rule-out step, based on high-sensitivity cardiac troponin levels in a sample taken on presentation and a minimum symptom duration, and a second stage for patients not meeting the initial rule-out criteria, based on presentation levels of high-sensitivity cardiac troponin and absolute change after 1, 2 or 3 hours. Two large cluster randomised controlled trials found that implementation of an early rule-out pathway for myocardial infarction reduced length of stay and rate of hospital admission without increasing cardiac events. In the base-case analysis, standard troponin testing was both the most effective and the most costly. Other testing strategies with a sensitivity of 100% (subject to uncertainty) were almost equally effective, resulting in the same life-year and quality-adjusted life-year gain at up to four decimal places. Comparisons based on the next best alternative showed that for willingness-to-pay values below £8455 per quality-adjusted life-year, the Access High Sensitivity Troponin I (Beckman Coulter, Brea, CA, USA) [(symptoms > 3 hours AND < 4 ng/l at 0 hours) OR (< 5 ng/l AND Δ < 5 ng/l at 0 to 2 hours)] would be cost-effective. For thresholds between £8455 and £20,190 per quality-adjusted life-year, the Elecsys Troponin-T high sensitive (Roche, Basel, Switzerland) (< 12 ng/l at 0 hours AND Δ  £20,190 per quality-adjusted life-year, the Dimension Vista High-Sensitivity Troponin I (Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen, Germany) (< 5 ng/l at 0 hours AND Δ < 2 ng/l at 0 to 1 hours) would be cost-effective.
High-sensitivity cardiac troponin testing may be cost-effective compared with standard troponin testing.
This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42019154716.
This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Evidence Synthesis programme and will be published in full in ; Vol. 25, No. 33. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.