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The Clinical Utility of a Diagnostic Imaging Algorithm Incorporating Low-Dose Perfusion Scans in the Evaluation of Pregnant Patients With Clinically Suspected Pulmonary Embolism

Abele, Jonathan T. MD, FRCPC; Sunner, Parveen MD

doi: 10.1097/RLU.0b013e31827088f6
Original Articles

Purpose of the Report The aim of this study was to determine the proportion of pregnant patients with a clinical suspicion of pulmonary embolism and a normal chest radiograph who require further evaluation with perfusion scintigraphy alone compared with both perfusion scintigraphy and computed tomography (CT).

Patients and Methods All patients who had a low-dose perfusion lung scan as part of a clinical imaging algorithm to assess for clinically suspected pulmonary embolism in pregnant patients at 3 regional hospitals from September 2009 to February 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. The proportion of patients requiring a low-dose perfusion-only lung scan was compared with the proportion requiring further evaluation with both a low-dose perfusion scan and a CT scan to complete the algorithm.

Results Seventy-four (74) patients were included. Sixty-one (61/74; 82.4%) patients had a normal low-dose perfusion-only scan and did not require further imaging. Thirteen (13/74; 17.6%) patients demonstrated an abnormal perfusion scan and required further imaging with a CT scan. One patient (1/74; 1.4%) was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism.

Conclusions Our results suggest that for pregnant patients with a normal chest radiograph, pulmonary embolism can be excluded in 82.4% of patients with a low-dose perfusion scan alone.

From the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Received for publication June 11, 2012; and revision accepted June 30, 2012.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Jonathan T. Abele, MD, FRCPC, Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Alberta, 2A2.42 WMC, 8440-112 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2B7. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.