Computed tomography pulmonary angiography: More than a screening tool for pulmonary embolus

Christian T Minshall, Andrew R. Doben, Stuart M. Leon, Samir M. Fakhry, Evert A. Eriksson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Traumatically injured patients have multiple causes for acute respiratory decompensation. We reviewed the use of computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) in critically injured patients to evaluate the results and impact on patient care. Methods: The charts of trauma patients (age > 16 years) admitted to our intensive care unit for greater than 48 hours, who underwent CTPA for acute respiratory decompensation, were reviewed to determine the results of these studies and the effect on patient care. Results: We identified 188 patients who underwent CTPA for acute physiologic changes. Pertinent clinical finding were identified in 95% of studies and included atelectasis/collapse (56%), pleural effusion (18%), pneumonia (15%), and pulmonary embolus (18%). These results prompted interventions designed to improve patient outcome. The most frequent interventions were modifications of ventilator therapy (52%), antibiotic therapy (28%), mini-bronchoalveolar lavage (15%), or bronchoscopy (15%). Diagnostic agreement between chest x-ray and CTPA was poor to moderate (κ = 0.013-0.512). Conclusions: Computed tomography pulmonary angiography is valuable in the evaluation of cardiopulmonary deterioration in critically ill traumatically injured patients. Computed tomography pulmonary angiography offers the ability to identify causes of acute physiologic changes not detected using standard chest x-ray. The results of these studies provide insight into the underlying pathophysiology and offer an opportunity to direct subsequent patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-200
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Critical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Computed tomography pulmonary angiography
  • Critical care
  • Intensive care unit
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary embolus
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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