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AIM: To determine the utilisation of computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) and lung scintigraphy in the UK, and to assess their diagnostic qualities in the investigation of suspected pulmonary embolism (PE) in pregnancy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data were collected via electronic questionnaire in the UK from 24 sites. Data on the choice of imaging technique, radiation dose, technical adequacy, weeks' gestation, presenting symptoms, and further management of patients with indeterminate imaging were collected. RESULTS: The sample represented a population of 15.5 million and showed wide variation in the probability of investigation of suspected PE with rates per live birth of 0.06-2.2%. Nine hundred and ninety-one patients were imaged and there were 48 positive scans, an incidence of 0.038%. Of the 269 CTPAs performed, 5.9% were positive, 8.9% were technically inadequate. Of the 769 scintigraphy scans performed, 3.8% were positive and 9.1% were indeterminate; 63% of positive scans were in the third trimester. Most inadequate/indeterminate scans were in the third trimester. The calculated typical radiation dose to the breast and fetus from CTPA ranged from 14 to 2 mGy and 0.02 to 0.002mGy, respectively, and approximately 0.28 and 0.2 mGy, respectively, from scintigraphy. CONCLUSION: The incidence of PE in this population was extremely low and the number of indeterminate or inadequate scans was comparable. This suggests choice of imaging should be made based upon availability and radiation exposure.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Radiol

Publication Date





696 - 701


Adult, Computed Tomography Angiography, Female, Health Care Surveys, Humans, Practice Patterns, Physicians', Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic, Pulmonary Embolism, Radionuclide Imaging, Retrospective Studies, United Kingdom