This is my first official contribution to Resus Review. I wanted to start with a follow up on my recent comment on cardiac troponin.

Cardiac biomarkers, particularly troponin, have become an essential tool in the work up of patients with symptoms suggestive of ischemia in which an “ACS” work up is required.

At our hospital, just last week we had an interesting debate organized by the EM/IM department on troponin. We had very nice group of people discussing, including Steve Smith from the ECG blog, Fred Apple (troponin expert), Bradley Bart (cardiologist) and Meghan Walsh (IM), among others.

These debates will be increasingly common over the next few months in the hospitals in the U.S. as high-sensitivity troponin (hs-cTn) approaches the United States. As some may be aware, hs-cTn has been available in Europe and many other countries for several years. But in the U.S. they still await FDA approval.

As they approach, ongoing discussions and debates will occur as hospitals decide to embrace (or not) these new assays. Emergency providers, internists and cardiologists will need to sit down and come to a decision about how to and when to introduce these assays.

Here below I attach some of the take-home points from my perspective:

The “definition”

The debate was was raised by the fact that we recently switched assays as raised in a previous post. I must emphasize again, that there are NO hs-troponin available in the U.S. for clinical practice pending FDA approval. Is is very common to see others talk about “highly-sensitive”, “ultra-sensitive”, etc. In brief, at this point our hospital, and likely a significant percentage of U.S. hospitals use “contemporary” troponin assays. I recommend this paper by Fred Apple for further understanding on the matter.

Must-know assay characteristics

In summary, with any troponin assay, primarily when hs-cTn becomes available, there are 3 key assay characteristics that I believe all EM, IM and cardiologist should be aware. Understanding the test will make you a better doctor and give you a better understanding on when to order the test and if so how to better interpret the implications of a measurable/reported value.

The must-know characteristics are:

1. The 99th percentile (99th URL)

2. The limit of detection (LoD)

3. Coefficient of variation (CV)

There are multiple documents on this matter, but any physician dealing with chest pain and ordering troponins should be familiar with at least 2 documents. One is the Third Universal Definition of MI and the other one is the consensus document on troponin interpretation by the ACCF.

Rise and/or fall

The current MI definition requires at least one value above the 99th URL in combination with at least another criteria such as ECG (see definition