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Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2014 Oct;41(10):1957-64. doi: 10.1007/s00259-014-2763-1. Epub 2014 Apr 10.

Safety of ventilation/perfusion single photon emission computed tomography for pulmonary embolism diagnosis.

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Université Européenne de Bretagne, Brest, France.



The aim of this management outcome study was to assess the safety of ventilation/perfusion single photon emission computed tomography (V/Q SPECT) for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) using for interpretation the criteria proposed in the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM) guidelines for V/Q scintigraphy.


A total of 393 patients with clinically suspected PE referred to the Nuclear Medicine Department of Brest University Hospital from April 2011 to March 2013, with either a high clinical probability or a low or intermediate clinical probability but positive D-dimer, were retrospectively analysed. V/Q SPECT were interpreted by the attending nuclear medicine physician using a diagnostic cut-off of one segmental or two subsegmental mismatches. The final diagnostic conclusion was established by the physician responsible for patient care, based on clinical symptoms, laboratory test, V/Q SPECT and other imaging procedures performed. Patients in whom PE was deemed absent were not treated with anticoagulants and were followed up for 3 months.


Of the 393 patients, the prevalence of PE was 28 %. V/Q SPECT was positive for PE in 110 patients (28 %) and negative in 283 patients (72 %). Of the 110 patients with a positive V/Q SPECT, 78 (71 %) had at least one additional imaging test (computed tomography pulmonary angiography or ultrasound) and the diagnosis of PE was eventually excluded in one patient. Of the 283 patients with a negative V/Q SPECT, 74 (26 %) patients had another test. The diagnosis of PE was finally retained in one patient and excluded in 282 patients. The 3-month thromboembolic risk in the patients not treated with anticoagulants was 1/262: 0.38 % (95 % confidence interval 0.07-2.13).


A diagnostic management including V/Q SPECT interpreted with a diagnostic cut-off of "one segmental or two subsegmental mismatches" appears safe to exclude PE.

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