Detection of pulmonary embolism with combined ventilation-perfusion SPECT and low-dose CT: head-to-head comparison with multidetector CT angiography.J Nucl Med 2009; 50(12):1987-92JN
The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) is usually established by a combination of clinical assessment, D-dimer testing, and imaging with either pulmonary ventilation-perfusion (V/Q) scintigraphy or pulmonary multidetector CT (MDCT) angiography. Both V/Q SPECT and MDCT angiography seem to have high diagnostic accuracy. However, only limited data directly comparing these 2 modalities are available. Hybrid gamma-camera/MDCT systems have been introduced and allow simultaneous 3-dimensional lung V/Q SPECT and MDCT angiography, suitable for diagnosing PE. The aim of our study was to compare, in a prospective design, the diagnostic ability of V/Q SPECT, V/Q SPECT combined with low-dose CT, and pulmonary MDCT angiography obtained simultaneously using a combined SPECT/MDCT scanner in patients suspected of having PE.
Consecutive patients from June 2006 to February 2008 suspected of having acute PE were referred to the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Rigshospitalet or Frederiksberg Hospital, Denmark, for V/Q SPECT as a first-line imaging procedure. The number of eligible patients was 196. Patients with positive D-dimer results (>0.5 mmol/mL) or a clinical assessment with a Wells score greater than 2 were included and underwent V/Q SPECT, low-dose CT, and pulmonary MDCT angiography in a single session. Patient follow-up was 6 mo.
A total of 81 simultaneous studies were available for analysis, of which 38% were from patients with PE. V/Q SPECT had a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 88%. When low-dose CT was added, the sensitivity was still 97% and the specificity increased to 100%. Perfusion SPECT with low-dose CT had a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 51%. MDCT angiography alone had a sensitivity of 68% and a specificity of 100%.
We conclude that V/Q SPECT in combination with low-dose CT without contrast enhancement has an excellent diagnostic performance and should therefore probably be considered first-line imaging in the work-up of PE in most cases.