NHLBI Study Says Combined Imaging Tests Help Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism
A chest imaging test, which detects potentially deadly blood clots in the lung, shows that extending the scan to the legs improves a physician's ability to accurately diagnose pulmonary embolism.
Akinso: A chest imaging test, which detects potentially deadly blood clots in the lung, shows that extending the scan to the legs improves a physician's ability to accurately diagnose pulmonary embolism. According to a study funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, researchers found that a chest CT angiography alone detects suspected pulmonary embolism in only 83 percent of patients who have them. However, the combined results of chest CT angiogram and the leg CT scan detects clots in 90 percent of patients who have these clots. The researchers recommended that physicians consider additional test results before ruling out pulmonary embolism in patients whose scan does not detect clots but whose clinical assessment suggests a high likelihood of pulmonary embolism according to Dr. Paul D. Stein, lead author of the study.
Stein: My main thought is that contrast mulitdetector CT is very good, that it should be done in combination with venous phase imaging; that means look at the leg veins at the same time and it should be done with a clinical evaluation. When all the tests are compatible with each other, the clinical evaluation and the CT angiogram then the physician can be very sure of the diagnosis. But if the results of clinical evaluation and the CT test differ then the physician should be a little bit careful and reevaluate the findings and consider doing more examinations.
Akinso: Dr. Stein said pulmonary embolism leads to death in nearly one-third of untreated cases but therapies lower the death rate to between 3 percent and 8 percent. In 9 out of 10 cases, pulmonary embolism begins as a clot in the deep veins of the leg-a condition known as deep vein thrombosis. The clot breaks free from the vein and travels to the lung, where it can block an artery. Dr. Stein said that the most commonly used treatments for both pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis are anti-clotting medications and injections of clot-busting agents. For more information about pulmonary embolism, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Paul D. Stein
Topic: Pulmonary Embolism