The value of pulmonary angiography for the differential diagnosis of pulmonary embolism

E. J. van Beek, J. A. Reekers

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The aim this study was to evaluate potential additional information of pulmonary angiography in patients with suspected pulmonary embolism and non-diagnostic lung scan findings. In a series of 150 patients who underwent pulmonary angiography for suspected venous thromboembolism, the images for potential alternative diagnoses other than pulmonary embolism were evaluated. All patients had non-diagnostic lung scan findings. Angiography was performed both by conventional and by digital subtraction angiography techniques. Images were evaluated by at least two experienced readers. Angiograms were scored for both presence or absence of pulmonary embolism, as well as other diagnoses. Pulmonary embolism was proven in 40 patients (27 %) and excluded in 105 patients (70 %), whereas non-interpretable images were obtained in 5 patients (3 %). A range of alternative diagnoses were detected by angiography: atelectasis (n = 24), pleural effusion (n = 15), pneumonia (n = 11), emphysematous bullae (n = 8), neoplasm (n = 3), atrial septum defect (n = 2), chronic thromboembolism (n = 1), and other diagnoses (n = 3). Overall, only 54 patients (36 %) had completely normal angiograms. Although pulmonary angiography remains the reference method for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, one has to be aware of other, often unexpected, but equally important findings which could influence the management of the patient. This aspect of pulmonary angiography has been insufficiently emphasized in the literature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1310-1316
JournalEuropean radiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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