Subsegmental pulmonary emboli: improved detection with thin-collimation multi-detector row spiral CT

Radiology. 2002 Feb;222(2):483-90. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2222001802.


Purpose: To compare different reconstruction thicknesses of thin-collimation multi-detector row spiral computed tomographic (CT) data sets of the chest for the detection of subsegmental pulmonary emboli.

Materials and methods: A multi-detector row spiral CT protocol for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was used that consisted of scanning the entire chest with 1-mm collimation within one breath hold. In 17 patients with central pulmonary embolism, the raw data were used to perform reconstructions with 1-mm, 2-mm, and 3-mm section thicknesses. For each set of images, each subsegmental artery was independently graded by three radiologists as open, containing emboli, or indeterminate.

Results: For the rate of detection of emboli in subsegmental pulmonary arteries, use of the 1-mm section width yielded an average increase of 40% when compared with the use of 3-mm-thick sections (P <.001) and of 14% when compared with the use of 2-mm-thick sections (P =.001). With the use of 1-mm sections versus 3-mm sections, the number of indeterminate cases decreased by 70% (P =.001). Interrater agreement was substantially better with the use of 1-mm and 2-mm sections than with the use of 3-mm sections.

Conclusion: For the diagnosis of subsegmental pulmonary emboli at multi-detector row CT, the use of 1-mm section widths results in substantially higher detection rates and greater agreement between different readers than the use of thicker sections.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation*