Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Send Your PE Patient to MRI!

Well, not exactly...but this is at least a "proof of concept" for cardiovascular magnetic resonance and the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism.

Obviously, helical CT has become the standard diagnostic modality for pulmonary embolism due to its rapid acquisition time and high sensitivity.  Unfortunately, contrast-enhanced scans through the thorax carry with them short- and long-term health risks.  So, what about MRI?

This small case series of twelve PE+ patients and twelve healthy controls undergoing CMR showed fair discriminatory power for pulmonary embolism.  On a per-patient basis, sensitivity was 100% – but to best evaluate a diagnostic test, it's probably important to consider a higher-resolution measure.  On a per-lobe basis, sensitivity was only 71% – with a kappa of only 0.69 for the reading radiologists.

And, then there's the minor issue that CMR is a 20-minute scan with 10 minutes of post-processing, so even when this is ready for prime-time, it's still going to have some practical limitations.

"Pulmonary Perfusion Imaging: New Insights Into Functional Consequences of Pulmonary Embolism Using a Multicomponent Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging Protocol" 
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23194944

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