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The uptake of coronary fractional flow reserve in Australia in the past decade

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The use of coronary pressure wires (or fractional flow reserve [FFR]) has been shown to reduce the frequency of major adverse cardiac events and of unnecessary stent procedures, and to lower treatment costs in both the public and private sectors in Australia.13 FFR is a tool for assessing physiological ischaemia in coronary artery stenosis, measuring pre- and post-stenosis pressures during adenosine-induced hyperaemia. Because it is evidence-based and quantifiable, it may be discussed during the upcoming Medicare reform. Data on its uptake across Australia, however, have not been published.

We examined trends in FFR use after its addition to the Medicare Benefits Schedule 10 years ago. We analysed Australian Government Department of Human Services data on Medicare items for coronary flow reserve, coronary angiography and percutaneous coronary angiography.

A total of 14 160 FFR services were processed by Medicare during the past 10 years. FFR use grew during this period, with a mean annual increase of 55%, from 131 services in 2007 to 3869 in 2015 (non-parametric analysis, P = 0.004). Time series analysis identified a Gompertz non-linear trend of FFR against time, indicating that national FFR use is continuing to increase, although growth began to slow in 2014. Further, FFR use increased on a population basis by an average of 45% each…