How does the addition of doppler ultrasound to CT angiograms affect diagnostic accuracy and prognosis in patients with pulmonary embolism?

Perrier A, et al. Using clinical evaluation and lung scan to rule out suspected pulmonary embolism: Is it a valid option in patients with normal results of lower-limb venous compression ultrasonography? Arch Intern Med. 2000 Feb 28; 160(4):512-6.

Methods: Analyzed data from 2 consecutive cohort management studies performed in 2 university hospitals of 1034 consecutive patients who came to the emergency department with clinically suspected PE. All patients were submitted to a sequential diagnostic protocol of lung scan, D-dimer testing, lower-limb venous compression ultrasonography (US), and pulmonary angiography in case of inconclusive results of noninvasive workup.  Outcome assessed by proportion of patients in whom PE could be ruled out by the combination of a low clinical probability and a nondiagnostic lung scan.

Results: The prevalence of PE was 27.6%. Empirical assessment was accurate for identifying patients with a low likelihood of PE (8.2% prevalence of PE in the low clinical probability category). One hundred eighty patients had a low clinical probability of PE and a nondiagnostic lung scan. Among these patients, US showed deep vein thrombosis in 5. Hence, PE could be ruled out by a low clinical probability, a nondiagnostic lung scan, and a normal US in 175 patients (21.5%). The 3-month thromboembolic risk in these patients was low (1.7%; 95% confidence interval, 0.4%-4.9%).

Conclusions: Anticoagulant treatment could be safely withheld in patients with a low clinical probability of PE and a non-diagnostic lung scan, provided that the US is normal. This combination of findings avoided pulmonary angiography in 21.5% of patients with suspected PE in this series.

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Clinical Informationist at EUH Branch Library
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