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Portable Ventilation/Perfusion Scanning is Useful for Evaluating Clinically Significant Pulmonary Embolism in the ICU Despite Abnormal Chest Radiog…

A new interesting article has been published in J Intensive Care Med. 2018 Oct 22:885066618807859. doi: 10.1177/0885066618807859. [Epub ahead of print] and titled:

Portable Ventilation/Perfusion Scanning is Useful for Evaluating Clinically Significant Pulmonary Embolism in the ICU Despite Abnormal Chest Radiog…

Authors of this article are:

Weinberg AS, Chang W, Ih G, Waxman A, Tapson VF.

A summary of the article is shown below:

OBJECTIVE:: Computed tomography angiography is limited in the intensive care unit (ICU) due to renal insufficiency, hemodynamic instability, and difficulty transporting unstable patients. A portable ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) scan can be used. However, it is commonly believed that an abnormal chest radiograph can result in a nondiagnostic scan. In this retrospective study, we demonstrate that portable V/Q scans can be helpful in ruling in or out clinically significant pulmonary embolism (PE) despite an abnormal chest x-ray in the ICU.DESIGN:: Two physicians conducted chart reviews and original V/Q reports. A staff radiologist, with 40 years of experience, rated chest x-ray abnormalities using predetermined criteria.SETTING:: The study was conducted in the ICU.PATIENTS:: The first 100 consecutive patients with suspected PE who underwent a portable V/Q scan.INTERVENTIONS:: Those with a portable V/Q scan.RESULTS:: A normal baseline chest radiograph was found in only 6% of patients. Fifty-three percent had moderate, 24% had severe, and 10% had very-severe radiographic abnormalities. Despite the abnormal x-rays, 88% of the V/Q scans were low probability for a PE despite an average abnormal radiograph rating of moderate. A high-probability V/Q for PE was diagnosed in 3% of the population despite chest x-ray ratings of moderate to severe. Six patients had their empiric anticoagulation discontinued after obtaining the results of the V/Q scan, and no anticoagulation was started for PE after a low-probability V/Q scan.CONCLUSION:: Despite the large percentage of moderate-to-severe x-ray abnormalities, PE can still be diagnosed (high-probability scan) in the ICU with a portable V/Q scan. Although low-probability scans do not rule out acute PE, it appeared less likely that any patient with a low-probability V/Q scan had severe hypoxemia or hemodynamic instability due to a significant PE, which was useful to clinicians and allowed them to either stop or not start anticoagulation.

Check out the article’s website on Pubmed for more information:



This article is a good source of information and a good way to become familiar with topics such as:

critical care;diagnostic imaging;hypoxia;massive pulmonary embolism;portable V/Q scan;pulmonary embolism;radiographic findings;respiratory failure;right ventricular failure;shock

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