Purpose: To prospectively evaluate pulmonary magnetic (MR) angiography as a diagnostic examination for acute pulmonary embolism (PE).
Materials and methods: Thirty-six consecutive patients (19 women, 17 men; age range, 28-84 years) underwent pulmonary digital subtraction angiography (DSA) and pulmonary MR angiography. MR angiograms were obtained during suspended respiration and the pulmonary arterial phase of gadolinium-based contrast medium injection. A steady-state gradient-recalled-echo sequence with free induction decay sampling was used. DSA studies were interpreted for the presence of acute PE by two independent radiologists; an adjudicator made the final decision on discordant interpretations.
Results: By using DSA, a total of 19 acute pulmonary emboli were depicted in 13 patients. Prospectively, 13 of these emboli were depicted by using MR angiography. MR angiography missed six emboli: Four required the DSA adjudicator to make the decision, and one was in a patient whose MR angiogram was acquired during breathing. Four of these six emboli were small subsegmental emboli, and two were segmental.
Conclusion: Performed without pulmonary arterial catheterization, iodinated contrast media, or ionizing radiation, pulmonary MR angiography had a high accuracy for depicting lobar and segmental emboli, but was unable to depict four of five subsegmental emboli.