Original Articles| Volume 32, ISSUE 5, P335-341, September 2008

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64-Multidetector-row spiral CT in pulmonary embolism with emphasis on incidental findings



      In this retrospective study, we assess the current role and future potential of computed tomography (CT) in the diagnostic algorithm of acute pulmonary embolism (PE).

      Materials and methods

      Two hundred patients underwent 64-multidetector-row spiral CT of the chest, pelvis, and thigh for suspected PE. CT scans were reviewed, and the degree of contrast enhancement and the presence of PE and/or (deep) venous thrombosis were recorded. In the case of PE, the level of thrombus was noted as central, main, or lobar. If the scan yielded a positive result for thrombosis, intravenous localization was also determined. Patient age, length of admission, clinical course, clinical indication, and incidental findings were registered as well.


      PE was detected in 60 of the 200 patients with a high clinical probability of having PE (30%). Thirty-four patients had a positive CT scan result for venous thrombosis (17%). Twenty-four of the 60 patients had proximal deep venous thrombosis (40%), and 2 patients had arm venous thrombosis (3%). Thirty-four of the 60 patients had PE without venous thrombosis (57%). Eight of the 200 patients had deep venous thrombosis without suspicion of PE (4%). The distribution of the proximal thrombi showed 15 in a central artery (25%), 13 in a main pulmonary artery (22%), and 32 in a lobar segmental artery (53%). There was diffuse allocation of the thrombus in all lobes. Furthermore, CT scan noted a total of 120 incidental findings.


      Our study indicates the potential clinical use of a diagnostic strategy for ruling out PE based on D-dimer testing and multidetector-row CT. A larger outcome study is needed before this approach can be adopted.


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