Lung scintigraphy and helical computed tomography for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism: A meta-analysis

EJR van Beek*, EMJ Brouwers, B Song, AHH Bongaerts, M Oudkerk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

To assess the diagnostic value of lung scintigraphy and helical computed tomography (hCT) in patients with suspected pulmonary embolism (PE), all English-language articles that described lung scintigraphy and hCT in patients with suspected PE were retrieved. Articles were assessed for strength of methodology, based on nine a priori-defined criteria. Parameters of diagnostic accuracy and results of management studies were calculated and evaluated. Lung scintigraphy is diagnostic in approximately 50% of patients with suspected PE. A normal perfusion scan has a chance of recurrent PE in two of 693 patients (0.3%; 95% CI: 0.2-0.4%; fatal in 0.15%). A high-probability lung scan is correlated with angiographically proven PE in 308 of 350 patients (88%; 95% CI: 84-91%). Pulmonary embolism was proven in 385 of 1529 patients (25%; 95% CI: 24-28%) with a nondiagnostic lung scan. Helical CT studies were compared with angiography and lung scintigraphy in 1171 patients, with a prevalence of PE of 39%. The sensitivity and specificity of hCT was 283/320 (88%; 95% CI: 83-91%) and 374/408 (92%; 95% CI:89-94%), respectively. Only one prospective management study using hCT was available. In patients in whom anticoagulants were withheld based on a normal hCT study, recurrent thromboembolic events occurred in six of 109 patients (5.5%; 95% CI: 2-12%), with one fatality (1% 95% CI: 0.02-4.3%). Lung scintigraphy is evaluated extensively and yields a diagnostic result in 50% of patients. Helical CT has similar positive predictive value to a high-probability lung scan. However, the exact role of hCT in the management of patients with suspected PE needs to be determined in prospective studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2001

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • helical computed tomography
  • lung scintigraphy
  • pulmonary embolism
  • SCAN


Dive into the research topics of 'Lung scintigraphy and helical computed tomography for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism: A meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this