Study finds newer method slightly more effective than traditional lung scans,,,,
TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Pulmonary embolism -- a life-threatening blood clot in the lungs -- can be very difficult to diagnose, but new research suggests a technique using CT scanning might be slightly more effective than lung scans at spotting such clots.
Canadian researchers found that computed tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA) detected pulmonary embolisms in 19.2 percent of a group of study volunteers who'd had symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, compared to 14.2 percent of the group who underwent the more standard test, ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) lung scanning.
More important, a pulmonary embolism was missed in only two out of the 561 people who underwent CTPA versus six out of 611 people who'd had V/Q scans. If a pulmonary embolism goes undetected and untreated, almost one-third of people with this type of blood clot will die.
"CTPA can safely be used to exclude the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism," said study author Dr. David R. Anderson, head of the division of hematology at Dalhousie University and Capitol Health in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
"We ended up diagnosing more patients with pulmonary embolism with CTPA rather than V/Q scanning. That was a bit of a surprise," said Anderson, who added that this finding needs to be investigated further. "Sometimes, when you detect very small blood clots that are isolated to single vessels, clinically, we wonder if such a small abnormality is the cause of symptoms."
Results of the study are published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"In general, the tendency is that when a clot is found, unless there's a specific contraindication, the clot is treated, because we recognize that clots can be very serious, and they can recur," said Dr. Jeffrey Glassroth, vice dean and chief academic officer at t
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