New Patient-Centered Imaging Document Defines Optimal Nuclear Cardiology Test Selection

March 1, 2012

BETHESDA, MD -- A new document released today by the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) details a patient-centered approach to selecting nuclear cardiology tests of maximum benefit and minimal risk. In addition to reviewing the numerous tests and protocols available to nuclear cardiology specialists, ASNC's "Patient-Centered Imaging" preferred practice statement reviews 15 clinical scenarios to provide specific examples of applying patient-centered imaging principles.

"This document helps imaging professionals tailor their test selection to the individual needs of their patients," said E. Gordon DePuey, MD, FASNC, a lead author of the preferred practice statement. "Patient safety, optimizing clinical benefit, patient convenience and satisfaction, and cost considerations are all important variable in determining the right test for each patient."

The new preferred practice statement draws from ASNC's evidence-based guidelines and hundreds of peer-reviewed articles weighing the clinical benefits and comparative attributes of nuclear cardiology tests. The authors provide a comprehensive review of the protocols for single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and stress testing. Each protocol's advantages, disadvantages, and radiation dose considerations are listed.

"Appropriate test selection requires providers to carefully assess the clinical question at hand and determine which test will provide the most relevant information at minimal risk to the patient," said Todd D. Miller, MD, another lead author on the statement. "Radiation exposure is certainly a factor in this equation, especially in younger patients and in women of childbearing age."

A unique feature of this new document is the section devoted to patient-specific examples. Providing common scenarios facing nuclear cardiology professionals, such as patients unable to exercise or patients with heart failure, the document describes symptoms and risk factors for providers to consider as well as protocol recommendations based on the published literature.

"Nuclear cardiology imaging is not a one-size-fits-all specialty," said John J. Mahmarian, MD, FASNC, ASNC's President and a co-author of the document. "Keeping patients' needs paramount will ensure that the testing we provide is safe, appropriate, and of optimal clinical benefit."

ASNC's "Patient-Centered Imaging" preferred practice statement is currently available online. The document will also be published in the March/April 2012 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology.