ABC’s coronary camera hype

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ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, with excitement in his voice, announced a “brand new technology approved just 3 weeks ago by the FDA.” It was a story about a tiny camera inside the coronary arteries – a technology called Optical Coherence Tomography. ABC called it:

• a new “cutting edge device.”

• a “new technology that could save your life”
• a technique providing a “much clearer picture than ever before.”

ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser said it “could help treat people with heart disease.” This had to be a momentary lapse in his medical knowledge since this is not a treatment device but a diagnostic device.

No evidence, no data, was provided in the ABC report.

Finally, at the very end of the piece, after about 3 minutes of breathless awe over the tiny camera and its pretty pictures, Besser addressed the most important question heretofore ignored – “Are outcomes better than with older technology?” And that answer isn’t known.

Meantime, blogger Dr. Wes Fisher, who knows a thing or two about the heart as a cardiac electrophysiologist, wrote:

“Please note that this technology has been around since at least 2002. Is it really new? Or is it really that the company’s news of FDA approval is “new?” More importantly, the million dollar question is not if it makes pretty pictures, but rather what does it add to the cost of the procedure and will it improve outcomes?”


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