Internal and Emergency Medicine

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 567–574 | Cite as

Diagnostic accuracy of focused cardiac and venous ultrasound examinations in patients with shock and suspected pulmonary embolism

  • Peiman NazerianEmail author
  • Giovanni Volpicelli
  • Chiara Gigli
  • Alessandro Lamorte
  • Stefano Grifoni
  • Simone Vanni


Evaluating the diagnostic performance of focused cardiac ultrasound (US) alone and combination with venous US in patients with shock and suspected pulmonary embolism (PE). Consecutive adult patients with shock and suspected PE, presenting to two Italian emergency departments, were included. Patients underwent cardiac and venous US at presentation with the aim of detecting right ventricular (RV) dilatation and proximal deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Final diagnosis of PE was based on a second level diagnostic test or autopsy. Among the 105 patients included in the study, 43 (40.9%) had a final diagnosis of PE. Forty-seven (44.8%) patients showed RV dilatation and 27 (25.7%) DVT. Sensitivity and specificity of cardiac US were 91% (95% CI 80–97%) and 87% (95% CI 80–91%), respectively. Venous US showed a lower sensitivity (56%, 95% CI 45–60%) but higher specificity (95%, 95% CI 88–99%) than cardiac US (both p < 0.05). When cardiac and venous US were both positive (22 out of 105 patients, 21%) the specificity increased to 100% (p < 0.01 vs cardiac US), whereas when at least one was positive (54 out of 105 patients, 51%) the sensitivity increased to 95% (p = 0.06 vs cardiac US). Focused cardiac US showed good but not optimal sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of PE in patients presenting with shock. Venous US significantly increased specificity of cardiac US, and the diagnosis of PE can be certain when both tests are positive or reasonably excluded when negative.


Pulmonary embolism Shock Right ventricular dysfunction Ultrasound Echocardiography Venous compression ultrasonography Diagnostic accuracy 



No sponsor funded the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

This is a prospective diagnostic accuracy study. Study patients were recruited from June 2012 to April 2015 in the Emergency Departments (EDs) of two Italian university hospitals with an annual census of 50,000 and 100,000 visits, respectively. The local ethics committee approved the study.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained for inclusion in the study.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (M4V 2875 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (M4V 3048 kb)


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Copyright information

© SIMI 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineCareggi University HospitalFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineSan Luigi Gonzaga University HospitalTurinItaly

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