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Ventilation-perfusion scintigraphy is more sensitive than multidetector CTPA in detecting chronic thromboembolic pulmonary disease as a treatable cause of pulmonary hypertension.

UNLABELLED: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive disease with a poor prognosis. Identifying chronic thromboembolic pulmonary disease as a cause of PH has major clinical implications as these patients could be potentially offered a surgical cure. Ventilation-perfusion (V/Q) scintigraphy has a high sensitivity to detect embolic disease but its value has been challenged with the emergence of multidetector CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA). We compared the value of V/Q scintigraphy with CTPA in detecting chronic thromboembolic pulmonary disease.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the results of V/Q scintigraphy and CTPA performed on patients who had been referred to the Pulmonary Hypertension Service at Hammersmith Hospital between 2000 and 2005. A total of 227 patients (85 males, 142 females; age range, 18-81 y; mean age, 42 y) had all tests done at Hammersmith Hospital and were included in the study. Interpretation of scans was according to the modified PIOPED (Prospective Investigation of Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis) criteria. CTPA was considered as suggestive of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary disease if it showed visualization of the thrombus or webs, recanalization, perfusion abnormalities, stenosis, or strictures. Standard pulmonary angiography was performed via femoral approach. In 90% of the cases, CTPA and V/Q scintigraphy were performed within 10 d.

RESULTS: Seventy-eight patients (group A) had a final diagnosis of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) and 149 (group B) had non-CTEPH etiology. Among group A, V/Q scintigraphy was reported as high probability in 75 patients, intermediate probability in 1 patient, and low probability in 2 patients. CTPA was positive in 40 patients and negative in 38 patients. Among group B, V/Q scintigraphy was reported as low probability in 134, intermediate probability in 7, and high probability in 8 patients. CTPA was negative in 148 patients and false-positive in 1 patient. Statistical analysis showed V/Q scintigraphy to have a sensitivity of 96%-97.4% and a specificity of 90%-95%. CTPA showed a sensitivity of 51% and a specificity of 99%.

CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate that V/Q scintigraphy has a higher sensitivity than CTPA in detecting CTEPH as a potential curable cause of PH.

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