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Acute Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis

To diagnose an acute pulmonary embolism, your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical exam and review the results of blood tests. Your doctor may also use:

  • Chest X-ray is a non-invasive test that takes pictures of the heart and lungs; these can help the doctor determine if there’s a problem that is causing your symptoms.
  • Ultrasound is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create a picture of blood flow and can show blockages in blood vessels in the thighs.
  • Computed tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography is used to show blood flow through the lungs and to detect pulmonary embolism. During this test, dye (contrast material) is injected into the blood vessels and a CT (computed tomography) scan is used to take pictures of blood as it flows through the lungs.
  • MRI use radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures.

IMPORTANT: Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain or a cough that produces bloody sputum.