Interventional cardiology, where real life and science do not necessarily meet

Meier, Bernhard (2016). Interventional cardiology, where real life and science do not necessarily meet. European Heart Journal, 37(26), pp. 2014-2019. Oxford University Press 10.1093/eurheartj/ehw220

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Evidence-based diagnosis, decision-making, and therapy appear a must these days. Generating and publishing evidence is a tedious job according to ever new and tightened research practice regulations. Rules will never prevent the typical human behaviour from showing the new thing to be shinier and the old thing dustier than they really are. The medical community is solicited to concoct a meal that is gullible for patients, authorities, and third-party payers out of the available evidence (after applying some conversion factors correcting the common bias of the researchers), anticipation of what will be the evidence tomorrow, common sense, and digested experience. Examples of misguidance by poorly produced or misinterpreted evidence are plentiful in interventional cardiology as they are in other disciplines. Coronary stents, for instance, were first underestimated due to the fact that they were generally used in bailout situations where the outcome remained rather dismal in spite of the salvaging potential of stents. Then they were overused quite uncritically rather to the detriment of the patient. Now with the high quality of the modern drug-eluting stents (DESs), the overuse persists but is no longer a concern. However, the enhanced potential of DESs compared with bare-metal stents was poorly exploited for >10 years because of reports that slipped through the meshes of good review and publication practice to convey the untenable message that bare-metal stents were preferable in many situations. As other examples, use of the fractional flow reserve (FFR) for decision-making has to be questioned despite prominently published reports recommending it. Fixing a lesion is today easier and hardly more complication prone than assessing it with the FFR. Closure of the patent foramen ovale may never be properly applied, because the collection of the understandably requested evidence takes decades, a follow-up duration that makes research unattractive to physicians and financiers. Transarterial aortic valve replacement, finally, is certain to eventually supplant surgical aortic valve replacement. However, this should have already been accomplished as a logical progress. The adoption of this remarkable breakthrough technology is slowed down by the quest for providing randomized evidence in patients, for whom the evidence should rather be derived from already existing studies, and by the quest to triage all these patients in a heart team, meaning to also keep the surgeons happy, although these patients do not really need them.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Cardiovascular Disorders (DHGE) > Clinic of Cardiology

UniBE Contributor:

Meier, Bernhard


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Oxford University Press




Daria Vogelsang

Date Deposited:

15 Mar 2017 12:02

Last Modified:

08 Jul 2019 02:30

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Coronary angioplasty; Coronary stenting; Interventional cardiology; Publication bias; Scientific rigour




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