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2022 Nov 17

Am J Case Rep


A 60-Year-Old Woman with a 6-Week History of Shortness of Breath and Intermittent Chest Pain Due to Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Disease Undetected by Computed Tomography Pulmonary Angiography (CTPA) and Diagnosed by Ventilation-Perfusion Imaging.


BACKGROUND Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary disease (CTEPD) is the persistent occlusion of pulmonary arteries resulting from 1 or more thrombo-emboli. Its presentation is often non-specific, with exertional dyspnea and fatigue, yet if left undiagnosed risks of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension and right-sided cardiac failure can ensue. Computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) and ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) imaging are most commonly utilized for investigating CTEPD. This report is of a 60-year-old woman with a 6-week history of breathlessness and intermittent chest pain due to CTEPD, undetected by CTPA and diagnosed by V/Q imaging. CASE REPORT A 60-year-old woman presented with a 6-week history of breathlessness, intermittent chest pain, and reduced mobility. Her past medical history included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary sarcoidosis, and obesity. Screening tests for infective and ischemic cardiac etiologies were unremarkable. A calculated Wells score was 6, making CTEPD the main differential diagnosis, and she was commenced on therapeutic dose anticoagulation. A CTPA performed on day 2 of admission showed no evidence of acute thromboembolic pulmonary disease or CTEPD. Instead, V/Q scintigraphy on day 6 revealed a perfusion mismatch in the right lung apex, consistent with CTEPD. The patient improved clinically and was discharged on long-term apixaban. CONCLUSIONS A negative CTPA does not necessarily exclude CTEPD. The sensitivity of CTPA for CTEPD is lower than that of V/Q imaging, and can hence lead to false-negative results, as this case highlights. When there is a high clinical suspicion for CTEPD but a negative CTPA study, V/Q imaging should always be undertaken.