Clin Chem. 2020 Sep 1;66(9):1167-1180. doi: 10.1093/clinchem/hvaa158.
BACKGROUND: Concerns exist regarding how the 99th percentile upper reference limit (URL) of cardiac troponin (cTn) is determined and whether it should be derived from normal healthy individuals.
CONTENT: The 99th percentile URL of cTn is an important criterion to standardize the diagnosis of myocardial infarction (MI) for clinical, research, and regulatory purposes. Statistical heterogeneity in its calculation exists but recommendations have been proposed. Some negativity has resulted from the fact that with some high-sensitivity (hs) cTn assays, a greater number of increases above the 99th percentile are observed when transitioning from a contemporary assay. Increases reflect acute or chronic myocardial injury and provide valuable diagnostic and prognostic information. The etiology of increases can sometimes be difficult to determine, making a specific treatment approach challenging. For those reasons, some advocate higher cutoff concentrations. This approach can contribute to missed diagnoses. Contrary to claims, neither clinical or laboratory guidelines have shifted away from the 99th percentile. To support the diagnosis of acute MI, the 99th percentile URL remains the best-established approach given the absence of cTn assay standardization. Importantly, risk stratification algorithms using hs-cTn assays predict the possibility of MI diagnoses established using the 99th percentile.
SUMMARY: The 99th percentile of cTn remains the best-established criterion for the diagnosis of acute MI. While not perfect, it is analytically and clinically evidence-based. Until there are robust data to suggest some other approach, staying with the 99th percentile, a threshold that has served the field well for the past 20 years, appears prudent.