How is Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosed?

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is diagnosed by your doctor based on:1


  • The signs and symptoms
  • The presence of one or more associated risk factors
  • The presence of D-dimer, a small protein fragment that is present in the blood after a blood clot has broken down. High levels of D-dimer could indicate that pieces of blood clot, or emboli, are loose in your bloodstream
  • Computerized tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA). A dye is injected into your blood vessels before a computerized tomography (CT) scan to make it easier to see the blood vessels in your lungs
  • Ventilation-perfusion scan. You will be asked to inhale a slightly radioactive gas that is visible during this scan to show the air flow in your lungs. At the same time, you’ll be given an injection that contains a small amount of radioactive material to show the blood flow in the vessels of your lungs
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