Purpose: To evaluate the use and quality of CT pulmonary angiography in our department, and to relate the findings to clinical parameters and diagnoses.
Material and Methods: A retrospective study of 324 consecutive patients referred to CT pulmonary angiography with clinically suspected pulmonary embolism (PE). From the medical records we registered clinical parameters, blood gases, D-dimer, risk factors and the results of other relevant imaging studies.
Results: 55 patients (17%) had PE detected on CT. 39 had bilateral PE, and 8 patients had isolated peripheral PE. 87% of the examinations showing PE had satisfactory filling of contrast material including the segmental pulmonary arteries, and 60% of the subsegmental arteries. D-dimer test was performed in 209 patients, 85% were positive. A negative D-dimer ruled out PE detected at CT. Dyspnea and concurrent symptoms or detection of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), contraceptive pills and former venous thromboembolism (VTE) were associated with PE. The presence of only one clinical parameter indicated a negative PE diagnosis (p < 0.017), whereas two or more suggested a positive PE diagnosis (p < 0.002). CT also detected various ancillary findings such as consolidation, pleural effusion, nodule or tumor in nearly half of the patients; however, there was no association with the PE diagnosis.
Conclusion: The quality of CT pulmonary angiography was satisfactory as a first-line imaging of PE. CT also showed additional pathology of importance in the chest. Our study confirmed that a negative D-dimer ruled out clinically suspected VTE.