Low concordance between CTPA and echocardiography in identification of right ventricular strain in PERT patients with acute pulmonary embolism

Emerg Radiol. 2023 Jun;30(3):325-331. doi: 10.1007/s10140-023-02130-z. Epub 2023 Apr 21.


Purpose: Right ventricular strain (RVS) is used to risk stratify patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE) and influence treatment decisions. Guidelines suggest that either computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) or transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) can be used to assess RVS. We sought to determine how often CTPA and TTE yield discordant results and to assess the test characteristics of CTPA compared to TTE.

Methods: We analyzed data from a single-center registry of PE cases severe enough to warrant activation of the hospital's Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT). We defined RVS as a right ventricular to left ventricular ratio (RV/LV) ≥ 1 or radiologist's interpretation of RVS on CTPA or as the presence of either RV dilation, hypokinesis, or septal bowing on TTE.

Results: We included 554 patients in our analysis, of whom 333 (60%) had concordant RVS findings on CTPA and TTE. Using TTE as the reference standard, CTPA had a sensitivity of 95% (95% CI 92-97%) and a specificity of 4% (95% CI 2-8%) for identifying RVS.

Conclusions: In a selected population of patients with acute PE for which PERT was activated, CTPA is highly sensitive but not specific for the detection of RVS when compared to TTE.

Keywords: Accuracy; Computed tomography; Pulmonary circulation; Right ventricular function; Risk stratification.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Echocardiography
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / diagnostic imaging