Last updated: 28 November 2017
What is a CT pulmonary angiogram?
CT pulmonary angiogram (or CTPA) is a special test used primarily to look for the presence of pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lung).
How is a CTPA performed?
A CTPA is performed in the radiology department scanning room, with the patient lying flat (supine) on a CT table. The head is placed in a comfortable ‘docking pillow’ and the CT scanner gantry (donut) passess over and around the patient to perform the scan. The gantry travels over the patient from the neck to the abdomen to create the scan.
Timing is essential and the radiographer will use instructions to indicate when to breathe in, breath out or hold breath.
Intravenous contrast is used to highlight the pulmonary vessels, and to determine the presence of a clot in the lung. If the patient lies very still, and the chest is stationary (breath hold) this optimises the quality of the scan.
When would you need a CTPA scan?
A CTPA scan is a useful investigation for those patients with a moderate to high probablity of pulmonary embolism. It is not the gold standard investigation, but is becoming more widely accepted as the standard non-invasive investigation of choice for determining the presence or absence of emboli (clots) in the pulmonary (lung) vessels.
Test results, explained
A CTPA is interpreted by an experienced radiologist. They are able to determine the presence of small, medium or large blood clots in the lung blood vessels, and determine the degree of potential compromise to the pulmonary (lung) system.
- Respiratory physician
- Cardiothoracic surgeon
- Emergency physician
- General Practitioner (GP)
- VQ scan
- Duplex scans of the legs
Also known as
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.