Send to

Choose Destination
Eur Radiol. 2011 Feb;21(2):240-5. doi: 10.1007/s00330-010-1942-0. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Computed tomography for the detection of free-floating thrombi in the right heart in acute pulmonary embolism.

Author information

Department of Cardiology, Université de Versailles-Saint Quentin (UVSQ), Ambroise Paré Hospital, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), Centre de Référence des Maladies Cardiaques Héréditaires, Boulogne, France.



The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of free-floating thrombi in the right heart (FFT) and the accuracy of computed tomography (CT) for their detection in pulmonary embolism (PE).


We studied 340 consecutive patients presenting with PE. All patients underwent CT and echocardiography.


The prevalence of FFT was 3.5% in the global population of PE and 22% in high-risk PE. Dyspnoea, cardiogenic shock, cardiac arrest and tachycardia were more frequently found in patients with FFT (p = 0.04, p < 0.0001, p = 0.0003 and p = 0.01, respectively). Sensitivity and specificity of CT for the detection of FFT were 100% (95% confidence interval: 74%-100%) and 97% (95%-99%), whereas positive and negative predictive values were 57% (34%-78%) and 100% (99%-100%). Among patients with FFT, right ventricular dilation was always detected by CT, whereas no right ventricular dilation was found among patients with a false diagnosis of FFT performed by CT (p < 0.0001).


Prevalence of FFT is 3.5% and differs according to the clinical presentation. Detection of FFT by CT is feasible and should lead to echocardiography being promptly performed for the confirmation of FFT.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center