Controversy exists regarding the usefulness of troponin testing for the risk stratification of patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE). We conducted an updated systematic review and a metaanalysis of troponin-based risk stratification of normotensive patients with acute symptomatic PE. The sources of our data were publications listed in Medline and Embase from 1980 through April 2008 and a review of cited references in those publications.
We included all studies that estimated the relation between troponin levels and the incidence of all-cause mortality in normotensive patients with acute symptomatic PE. Two reviewers independently abstracted data and assessed study quality. From the literature search, 596 publications were screened. Nine studies that consisted of 1,366 normotensive patients with acute symptomatic PE were deemed eligible. Pooled results showed that elevated troponin levels were associated with a 4.26-fold increased odds of overall mortality (95% CI, 2.13 to 8.50; heterogeneity χ2 = 12.64; degrees of freedom = 8; p = 0.125). Summary receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed a relationship between the sensitivity and specificity of troponin levels to predict overall mortality (Spearman rank correlation coefficient = 0.68; p = 0.046). Pooled likelihood ratios (LRs) were not extreme (negative LR, 0.59 [95% CI, 0.39 to 0.88]; positive LR, 2.26 [95% CI, 1.66 to 3.07]). The Begg rank correlation method did not detect evidence of publication bias.
The results of this metaanalysis indicate that elevated troponin levels do not adequately discern normotensive patients with acute symptomatic PE who are at high risk for death from those who are at low risk for death.