Imaging evaluation for suspected pulmonary embolism: What do emergency physicians and radiologists say?

Saurabh Jha, Alex Ho, Mythreyi Bhargavan, Jean B. Owen, Jonathan H. Sunshine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The utility of various imaging techniques and strategies for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism has been studied in randomized control trials and extensively described in the literature. CT and ventilation - perfusion scintigraphy are the mainstays of diagnosis, and MRI is emerging. The purpose of this study was to assess the diagnostic approach to pulmonary embolism practiced by emergency physicians and advised by radiologists. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Questionnaires were sent to emergency physicians and radiologists in Pennsylvania. The questions covered diagnostic strategies for the detection of pulmonary embolism in the usual situations and in clinical circumstances in which the primary imaging technique is considered less desirable. RESULTS. Sixty-two radiologists and 52 emergency physicians completed the survey. Ninety percent of radiologists and 96% of emergency physicians answered that CT was their first-line choice for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. The use of ventilation - perfusion scintigraphy increased in the care of patients with renal failure and allergy to iodinated contrast material. MRI was chosen infrequently. CONCLUSION. CT is the overwhelmingly preferred technique for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. The role of ventilation - perfusion scintigraphy increases when the use of iodinated contrast material is contraindicated. MRI does not seem to have an important role in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)W38-W48
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • CT
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Radiation
  • Scintigraphy
  • V/Q scan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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