The diagnostic value of oesophageal radionuclide transit in patients admitted for but without acute myocardial infarction.
Jorgensen F. Fruergaard P. Launbjerg J. Aggestrup S. Elsborg L. Hesse B.
Department of Clinical Physiology, County Hospital, Hillerod, Denmark.
The use of radionuclide transit (RT) as a screening test for chest pain of oesophageal origin has been debated. The aim of this study was to determine the value of RT as a screening test for oesophageal disorders in comparison with oesophageal manometry in patients admitted with acute chest pain but without acute myocardial infarction (non-AMI patients), and to assess the frequency of oesophageal disease present in these patients. A total of 222 non-AMI patients entered the study. An extensive examination programme comprised noninvasive cardiac studies, pulmonary studies, a careful physical examination of the musculoskeletal system, and oesophago-gastric examinations including endoscopy, pH monitoring of the oesophagus and a Bernstein test. In 91% of the patients one or more diagnoses were obtained. Based on clinical and laboratory data a 'consensus' diagnosis was made. With manometry as the reference RT had a poor sensitivity (35%) but an acceptable specificity (82%). With the consensus diagnosis as the gold standard the sensitivities of both manometry and RT were poor (29%), whereas the specificity of RT, but not of manometry, was very high (97%). Gastrointestinal diagnoses were found in 57% of the patients. In conclusion, none of the applied oesophageal examinations are valuable as single screening tests. Both RT and manometry have low sensitivities. RT may be used as a cheap, noninvasive and rapid supplementary examination. When positive, it strongly supports further invasive studies of the oesophagus in non-AMI patients with unexplained chest pain.