Computed tomography angiography (CTA) can identify abnormalities and injury beyond the pulmonary arteries, including broken bones and heart disease, according to a study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR).
Children with clinically suspected pulmonary embolism (PE) are increasingly being evaluated with CT angiography (CTA). Even though many children ultimately test negative for PE, study results suggest that CTA is still valuable for this indication because it has the ability to accurately detect a variety of alternative diagnoses.
The study, performed at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, included 89 CTA exams with clinically suspected PE. Researchers found that 41 percent of those CTA exams were normal. However, they found that CTA provided them with an alternative diagnosis to pulmonary embolism in 59 percent of the exams performed.
"The two most common alternative diagnoses were pneumonia and atelectasis," said Edward Lee, MD, MPH, lead author of the study. "However, a variety of other alternative diagnoses, including congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, rib fractures, and more, were identified throughout the thorax " he said.
"One of the most important advantages of CTA is its ability to show alternative diagnoses in pediatric and adult patients without evidence of pulmonary embolism," said Dr. Lee."Our findings emphasize the importance of systemically searching beyond the pulmonary arteries for an alternative diagnosis when interpreting pulmonary CTA studies in children," he said.