Routine creatine kinase testing does not provide clinical utility in the emergency department for diagnosis of acute coronary syndromes

From BMC Emergency Medicine:


Despite the high sensitivity and negative predictive value of contemporary high-sensitivity troponin T assays (hsTnT), creatine kinase (CK) continues to be routinely tested for the diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). We conducted a study to identify the clinical utility of routine CK measurement, its relevance in clinical decision making in the era of hsTnT, and the potential cost-savings achievable by limiting its use.


We conducted a retrospective review of all adult patients presenting to a tertiary care center in the year 2017. We identified patients presenting with cardiac complaints who had non-diagnostic hsTnT and positive CK. These patients underwent chart review to determine whether a diagnosis of AMI was made.


A total of 36,251 presentations were reviewed. 9951 had cardiac complaints and 8150 had CK measured. 82% of these patients had hsTnT and CK measured; 2012 of these patients had non-diagnostic hsTnT with positive CK. Of these 2012 patients, only 1 was subsequently diagnosed with AMI (0.012%). CK provided no diagnostic benefit over hsTnT alone in > 99.9% of cases. With a cost for CK of $4/test, we estimated that routine CK testing costs at least $32,000 per year in our center, and over $100,000 per year across the region.


Routine CK testing does not provide a significant benefit to patient care and therefore represents an unnecessary system cost. Routine CK testing for the diagnosis of AMI should be eliminated from emergency departments in the era of hsTnT assays.

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