Utilization Patterns and Diagnostic Yield of 3421 Consecutive Multidetector Row Computed Tomography Pulmonary Angiograms in a Busy Emergency Department

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Objective:To compare examination volume and diagnostic yield of computed tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography (CTPA) and ventilation-perfusion (V/Q) scintigraphy for detection of suspected pulmonary embolism (PE) in emergency department patients.Methods:Every CTPA and V/Q scan result for emergency department patients between October 2001 and September 2005 were reviewed. Patients with prior PE and follow-up examinations were excluded.Results:A total of 3421 CTPA examinations and 198 V/Q scans met inclusion criteria. Average CTPA examinations completed per month increased 227%, from 33.4 to 109.2 for the first and last 24-month periods, respectively. Ventilation-perfusion scintigraphy volume decreased 80% (from 6.9 to 1.4 per month). Total diagnoses of PE per month increased 89% from 4.0 to 7.5, whereas the percentage of positive CTPA examinations dropped from 9.8% to 6.8%.Conclusions:Availability of CT in the emergency department and lower physician thresholds for test utilization have increased the use of CT pulmonary angiography and increased detection of PE.

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