One-shot diagnostic and prognostic assessment in intermediate- to high-risk acute pulmonary embolism: the role of multidetector computed tomography

Rev Port Cardiol. 2013 Jan;32(1):7-13. doi: 10.1016/j.repc.2012.05.020. Epub 2012 Dec 11.


Introduction: Contrast-enhanced multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) is useful for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE). However, current guidelines do not support its use for risk assessment in acute PE patients.

Objectives: We compared the prognostic impact of MDCT-derived indices regarding medium-term mortality in a population of intermediate- to high-risk PE patients, mostly treated by thrombolysis.

Methods: Thirty-nine consecutive patients admitted to an intensive care unit with acute PE were studied. All patients had a pulmonary MDCT on admission to the emergency room as part of the diagnostic algorithm. We assessed the following MDCT variables: right ventricular/left ventricular diameter (RV/LV) ratio, arterial obstruction index, pulmonary artery-to-aorta diameter ratio and azygos vein diameter. A 33-month follow-up was performed.

Results: Mean age was 59.1±19.6 years, with 80% of patients receiving thrombolysis. Follow-up all-cause mortality was 12.8%. Of the MDCT-derived variables, only the RV/LV ratio had significant predictive value, being higher in patients who suffered the endpoint (1.6±0.5 vs. 1.9±0.4, p=0.046). Patients with an RV/LV ratio ≥1.8 had 11-fold higher medium-term all-cause mortality (3.8% vs. 38.8%, p<0.001). Regarding this endpoint, the c-statistic was 0.78 (95% CI, 0.60-0.96) for RV/LV ratio and calibration was good (goodness-of-fit p=0.594). No other radiological index was predictive of mortality.

Conclusions: MDCT gives the possibility, in a single imaging procedure, of diagnosing and assessing the prognosis of patients with intermediate- to high-risk PE. Although further studies are needed, the simple-to-calculate RV/LV ratio has good discrimination and calibration for predicting poorer outcomes in patients with acute PE.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography* / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult