The American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and other groups have jointly released an appropriate use criteria (AUC) document regarding the use of imaging modalities in diagnosing nonvalvular (that is, structural) heart disease.
Imaging plays an important role in diagnosing both valvular and nonvalvular heart diseases, so the goal of the document was to help clinicians provide high-quality care by standardizing the decision-making process. To do so, a committee was formed to devise scenarios that reflected situations in real-world practice; these scenarios were considered within categories to prevent the list from being too exhaustive. The scenarios were then reviewed by a rating panel in terms of how appropriate certain modalities were in each situation. The panel members first evaluated the scenarios independently then face to face as a panel before giving their final scores (from 1 to 9) independently.
For example, for the indication of nonsustained ventricular tachycardia, the panelists rated transthoracic echocardiography with or without 3-D and with contrast as needed as a 8, which means it’s an “appropriate test,” whereas they gave CT for the same indication a 3, which means “rarely appropriate.” For sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, they gave a 9 and a 6, respectively; this latter score indicates the test “may be appropriate.” These scenarios and the respective scores for any given test are organized into tables, such as initial evaluation or follow-up.
This AUC document “signals a shift from documents evaluating a single modality in various disease states to documents evaluating multiple imaging modalities and focusing on evidence and clinical experience within a given disease category,” the authors wrote. “We believe this approach better reflects clinical decision making in real-world scenarios and offers the diagnostic choices available to the clinician.”
The full document can be viewed in