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March 16, 1984

Ultrasound Procedure for Diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism

JAMA. 1984;251(11):1417. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340350019007

Reflected ultrasound initially served as a noninvasive diagnostic tool primarily to produce images of tissue boundaries. Ultrasound applications have more recently involved quantitative analysis of tissue echoes to diagnose cardiomyopathy, acute myocardial infarction, cirrhosis, and liver tumors.

In a study performed under NIH contract, Kiran B. Sagar, MD, and colleagues at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, developed a new method for the use of reflected ultrasound in the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism using a research prototype ultrasound instrument. They evaluated indexes of reflection and absorption as well as Doppler estimates of intrapulmonary blood flow for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. In a preliminary study of 25 patients with pulmonary embolism (18 patients were documented with a pulmonary angiogram and seven patients with a high-probability ventilation-perfusion [V/Q] scan), correct diagnosis was made in 23 patients (Circulation 1983;67:365-370).

Pulmonary embolism, affecting about 600,000 people in the United States annually, is