Date: 27 Jan 2009

Is the lung scan alive and well? Facts and controversies in defining the role of lung scintigraphy for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism in the era of MDCT

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The last decade has seen a changing pattern of utilization of multidetector CT (MDCT) versus lung perfusion scintigraphy in the investigation of pulmonary venous thromboembolism (VTE). In response to this the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determined that the subject required an overview.


The IAEA has invited a group of five specialists in the relevant fields to review the current status and optimum role of scintigraphy, to explore some of the facts and controversies surrounding the use of both modalities and to make recommendations about the continued role of nuclear medicine for the investigation of pulmonary embolism. This paper identifies the relative merits of each technique, highlights benefits, focuses on complementary roles and seeks a nonadversarial symbiosis.


The consultants reached a consensus that the continued use of scintigraphy for diagnosis of thromboembolic disease is recommended, particularly in scenarios where scintigraphy confers specific benefits and is complementary to MDCT.

An Editorial Commentary to this paper is available at