What is the role of ventilation-perfusion scanning in the workup of venous thromboembolism (VTE)?

Updated: Nov 05, 2020
  • Author: Vera A De Palo, MD, MBA, FCCP; Chief Editor: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS, FAOA, FABOS, FAAOS  more...
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Ventilation-perfusion scanning is a common screening technique. This modality provides a probability estimate for PE by evaluation of the size and the number of defects in the perfusion of the lung compared with the areas of ventilation.

The diagnosis of PE is easily made with this modality when the probability estimate is high for PE. With a normal scan finding, the possibility of PE is excluded. However, the test results are nondiagnostic in about 66% of cases. The image below compares normal ventilation findings with a perfusion defect.

Ventilation-perfusion scan. Left image: Posterior Ventilation-perfusion scan. Left image: Posterior view of normal findings on ventilation scan. Right image: Posterior view of a perfusion scan that reveals a perfusion defect in the left upper quadrant. The defect in the middle of the image is due to the position of the heart.

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