The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) is usually established by a combination of clinical assessment, D-dimer testing, and imaging with either pulmonary ventilation-perfusion (V/Q) scintigraphy or pulmonary multidetector CT (MDCT) angiography. Both V/Q SPECT and MDCT angiography seem to have high diagnostic accuracy. However, only limited data directly comparing these 2 modalities are available. Hybrid gamma-camera/MDCT systems have been introduced and allow simultaneous 3-dimensional lung V/Q SPECT and MDCT angiography, suitable for diagnosing PE. The aim of our study was to compare, in a prospective design, the diagnostic ability of V/Q SPECT, V/Q SPECT combined with low-dose CT, and pulmonary MDCT angiography obtained simultaneously using a combined SPECT/MDCT scanner in patients suspected of having PE. METHODS: Consecutive patients from June 2006 to February 2008 suspected of having acute PE were referred to the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Rigshospitalet or Frederiksberg Hospital, Denmark, for V/Q SPECT as a first-line imaging procedure. The number of eligible patients was 196. Patients with positive D-dimer results (>0.5 mmol/mL) or a clinical assessment with a Wells score greater than 2 were included and underwent V/Q SPECT, low-dose CT, and pulmonary MDCT angiography in a single session. Patient follow-up was 6 mo. RESULTS: A total of 81 simultaneous studies were available for analysis, of which 38% were from patients with PE. V/Q SPECT had a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 88%. When low-dose CT was added, the sensitivity was still 97% and the specificity increased to 100%. Perfusion SPECT with low-dose CT had a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 51%. MDCT angiography alone had a sensitivity of 68% and a specificity of 100%. CONCLUSION: We conclude that V/Q SPECT in combination with low-dose CT without contrast enhancement has an excellent diagnostic performance and should therefore probably be considered first-line imaging in the work-up of PE in most cases.
Keywords: Aged; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Perfusion Imaging; Pulmonary Artery; Pulmonary Embolism; Pulmonary Ventilation; Radiation Dosage; Sensitivity and Specificity; Time Factors; Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon; Tomography, X-Ray Computed