People who experience recurring pulmonary emboli could benefit from concurrent testing to detect both pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Each year, more than 60,000 Americans die of pulmonary embolism, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Early detection and treatment of DVT, which can lead to pulmonary embolism, can save lives.
Researchers studied 1,590 consecutive patients undergoing computed tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography for suspected pulmonary embolism. Two minutes later, the patients underwent CT venography from the iliac crest to the popliteal fossa. The presence of pulmonary embolism or DVT was documented for all patients.
Researchers found that CT pulmonary angiography detected pulmonary embolism in 15% (243) of patients. The second test, CT venography, detected DVT in 9% (148) of patients. Computed tomography pulmonary angiography detected pulmonary embolism in 100 of the 148 patients with DVT.
Researchers calculated that providing CT venography as well as CT pulmonary angiography for patients at risk for pulmonary embolism increased the detection of thromboembolic disease by 20% because CT pulmonary angiography may not detect clots in small pulmonary arteries.
Performing CT venography after CT pulmonary angiography requires no additional contrast material and takes just a short time to perform. Performing venography also eliminates the need for a separate lower extremity exam that can delay diagnosis.
Thromboembolic disease detection at indirect CT venography versus CT pulmonary angiography, Radiology, MD Cham, et al., February 2005.