How is the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) confirmed?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
  • Print
Answer

Clinical signs and symptoms for pulmonary embolism are nonspecific; therefore, patients suspected of having pulmonary embolism—because of unexplained dyspnea, tachypnea, or chest pain or the presence of risk factors for pulmonary embolism—must undergo diagnostic tests until the diagnosis is ascertained or eliminated or an alternative diagnosis is confirmed. Further, routine laboratory findings are nonspecific and are not helpful in pulmonary embolism, although they may suggest another diagnosis. Pulmonary angiography historically was the criterion standard for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, but with the improved sensitivity and specificity of CT angiography, it is now rarely performed. (See Workup.)


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!