There are many nuances that come with a diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. For one thing, this condition affects 25 to 100 people per 100,000. This means that 30,000 Canadians suffer from it on a yearly basis. It is also a potentially fatal affliction.
In fact, it is behind only stroke and heart attack in terms of fatality among cardiovascular diseases. Lastly, survivors have a high risk of pulmonary hypertension in the long run.
It is important to identify it among at-risk patients as soon as possible. There are two primary diagnostic tests used to check for pulmonary embolism: CT Pulmonary Angiography and D-Dimer.
This tends to be faster than the alternative. Another advantage is that there is no radiation exposure involved. Despite this, it has high sensitivity. Unfortunately, it is not perfect as it has low specificity and high rates of false positives.
CT Pulmonary Angiography
On the other hand, CTPA has high sensitivity and specificity at the same time. It can also be used to identify alternative diagnoses. However, it is a cost and time-intensive procedure. The radiation exposure and contrast-induced nephrotoxicity are worrisome for some patients.