Gadolinium-enhanced pulmonary magnetic resonance angiography in the diagnosis of acute pulmonary embolism: a prospective study on 48 patients

Clin Imaging. May-Jun 2006;30(3):166-72. doi: 10.1016/j.clinimag.2005.10.005.


Objective: Gadolinium-enhanced pulmonary magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) can be an option in patients with a history of previous adverse reaction to iodinated contrast material and renal insufficiency. Radiation is also avoided. The aim of this study is to prospectively compare the diagnostic value of MRA with that of a diagnostic strategy, taking into account catheter angiography, computed tomography angiography (CTA), and lung scintigraphy [ventilation-perfusion (VQ)].

Material and methods: Magnetic resonance angiography was done in 48 patients with clinically suspected pulmonary embolism (PE) using fast gradient echo coronal acquisition with gadolinium. Interpretation was done with native coronal images and multiplanar maximum intensity projection reconstructions. Results were compared to catheter angiography (n=15), CTA (n=34), VQ (n=45), as well as 6-12 months clinical follow-ups, according to a sequenced reference tree.

Results: The final diagnosis of PE was retained in 11 patients (23%). There were two false negatives and no false positive results with MRA. Computed tomography angiography resulted in no false negatives or false positives. Magnetic resonance angiography had a sensitivity of 82% and a specificity of 100%.

Conclusion: In our study, pulmonary MRA had a sensitivity of 82% and a specificity of 100% for the diagnosis of PE, with slightly less sensitivity than CTA. In the diagnostic algorithm of PE, pulmonary MRA should be considered as an alternative to CTA when iodine contrast injection or radiation is a significant matter.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gadolinium DTPA*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Artery* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Artery* / pathology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA