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Fractional flow reserve versus angiography alone in guiding myocardial revascularisation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials


Background Randomised trials evaluating the efficacy and safety of fractional flow reserve (FFR)-guided versus angiography-guided revascularisation among patients with obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) have yielded mixed results.

Aims To examine the comparative efficacy and safety of FFR-guided versus angiography-guided revascularisation among patients with obstructive CAD.

Methods An electronic search of MEDLINE, SCOPUS and Cochrane databases without language restrictions was performed through November 2021 for randomised controlled trials that evaluated the outcomes of FFR-guided versus angiography-guided revascularisation. The primary outcome was major adverse cardiac events (MACE). Data were pooled using a random-effects model.

Results The final analysis included seven trials with 5094 patients. The weighted mean follow-up duration was 38 months. Compared with angiography guidance, FFR guidance was associated with fewer number of stents during revascularisation (standardised mean difference=−0.80; 95% CI −1.33 to −0.27), but no difference in total hospital cost. There was no difference between FFR-guided and angiography-guided revascularisation in long-term MACE (13.6% vs 13.9%; risk ratio (RR) 0.97, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.11). Meta-regression analyses did not reveal any evidence of effect modification for MACE with acute coronary syndrome (p=0.36), proportion of three-vessel disease (p=0.88) or left main disease (p=0.50). There were no differences between FFR-guided and angiography-guided revascularisation in the outcomes all-cause mortality (RR 1.16, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.68), cardiovascular mortality (RR 1.27, 95% CI 0.50 to 3.26), repeat revascularisation (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.21), recurrent myocardial infarction (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.14) or stent thrombosis (RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.31 to 1.21).

Conclusion Among patients with obstructive CAD, FFR-guided revascularisation did not reduce the risk of long-term adverse cardiac events or the individual outcomes. However, FFR-guided revascularisation was associated with fewer number of stents.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42021291596.

  • percutaneous coronary intervention
  • coronary artery disease

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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