SPECT/CT and pulmonary embolism

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2014 May;41 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S81-90. doi: 10.1007/s00259-013-2614-5. Epub 2013 Nov 9.


Acute pulmonary embolism (PE) is diagnosed either by ventilation/perfusion (V/P) scintigraphy or pulmonary CT angiography (CTPA). In recent years both techniques have improved. Many nuclear medicine centres have adopted the single photon emission CT (SPECT) technique as opposed to the planar technique for diagnosing PE. SPECT has been shown to have fewer indeterminate results and a higher diagnostic value. The latest improvement is the combination of a low-dose CT scan with a V/P SPECT scan in a hybrid tomograph. In a study comparing CTPA, planar scintigraphy and SPECT alone, SPECT/CT had the best diagnostic accuracy for PE. In addition, recent developments in the CTPA technique have made it possible to image the pulmonary arteries of the lungs in one breath-hold. This development is based on the change from a single-detector to multidetector CT technology with an increase in volume coverage per rotation and faster rotation. Furthermore, the dual energy CT technique is a promising modality that can provide functional imaging in combination with anatomical information. Newer high-end CT scanners and SPECT systems are able to visualize smaller subsegmental emboli. However, consensus is lacking regarding the clinical impact and treatment. In the present review, SPECT and SPECT in combination with low-dose CT, CTPA and dual energy CT are discussed in the context of diagnosing PE.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Humans
  • Multimodal Imaging*
  • Perfusion Imaging
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals