The role of newer diagnostic techniques in the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism

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Among the evolving techniques for the diagnosis of acute pulmonary embolism, contrast enhanced spiral CT takes a particularly prominent role because it is available at most centers, it images the pulmonary embolism directly, and it is minimally invasive. It has not yet been fully evaluated, however. Magnetic resonance angiography also has appeal for similar reasons. Few patients have been studied, however. Magnetic resonance angiography for pulmonary embolism is still in the early testing phase. Transesophageal echocardiography can image pulmonary embolism in central pulmonary arteries, but preliminary tests suggest that it has a low negative predictive value and cannot be used to exclude pulmonary embolism. Finally, it seems that a rapid and sensitive technique for measuring d-dimer may now be available, which may assist in eliminating the diagnosis of acute pulmonary embolism in a significant percentage of patients in whom the diagnosis is suspected.

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