Ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) scanning in contemporary patients with pulmonary embolism: utilization rates and predictors of use in a multinational study

J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2022 May;53(4):829-840. doi: 10.1007/s11239-021-02579-0. Epub 2021 Oct 5.


Ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) imaging and computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) are common tools for acute pulmonary embolism (PE) diagnosis. Limited contemporary data exist about the utilization of each modality, including the predictors of using V/Q versus CTPA. We used the data from patients diagnosed with PE using V/Q or CTPA from 2007 to 2019 in Registro Informatizado Enfermedad ThromboEmbolica, an international prospective registry of patients with venous thromboembolism. Outcomes was to determine the trends in utilization of V/Q vs. CTPA and, in a contemporary subgroup fitting with current practices, to evaluate predictors of V/Q use with multivariable logistic regression. Among 26,540 patients with PE, 89.2% were diagnosed with CTPA, 7.1% with V/Q and 3.7% with > 1 thoracic imaging modality. Over time, the proportional use of V/Q scanning declined (13.9 to 3.3%, P < 0.001). In multivariable analysis, heart failure history (odds ratio [OR]:1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14-1.98), diabetes ([OR 1.71; 95% CI 1.39-2.10]), moderate and severe renal failure (respectively [OR 1.87; 95% CI 1.47-2.38] and [OR 9.36; 95% CI 6.98-12.55]) were the patient-level predictors of V/Q utilization. We also observed an influence of geographical and institutional factors, partly explained by time-limited V/Q availability (less use over weekends) and regional practices. Use of V/Q for the diagnosis of PE decreased over time, but it still has an important role in specific situations with an influence of patient-related, institution-related and logistical factors. Local and regional resources should be evaluated to improve V/Q accessibility than could benefit for this population.

Keywords: Computed tomography angiography; Pulmonary embolism; Radionuclide imaging; V/Q scan.

MeSH terms

  • Angiography / methods
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Perfusion
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / diagnostic imaging
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio