Chest CTA/leg CT combo affords better PE detection

September 1, 2006

A multicenter study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that combining a CT scan of the legs with chest CT angiography increases the chances of detecting pulmonary embolism.

A multicenter study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that combining a CT scan of the legs with chest CT angiography increases the chances of detecting pulmonary embolism.

Researchers from eight clinical centers compared three ways to diagnose blood clots in 824 patients suspected of having PE: chest CT angiography alone, chest CTA with venous-phase imaging (leg CT), and chest CTA with an objective clinical assessment known as the Wells Score. The combined chest CTA and leg CT approach provided PE detection and specificity rates of 90% and 95%, respectively. A high clinical probability combined with positive chest CTA correctly indicated PE in 96% of participants. However, a negative chest CTA on these patients did not confidently rule out PE.

The study appeared in the June 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.