Background: Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the third most frequently occurring cardiovascular disease. However, the clinical presentation in patients with PE is variable.
Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of radiological findings detected in contrast-enhanced computed tomography angiography (CTA) and their significance in patients with PE; and to assess whether the CTA findings differed in patients receiving tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) therapy from those who did not.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed CTA scans of 186 patients diagnosed with acute PE. Incidental findings on CTA scan were assessed, including mediastinal and parenchymal lymph nodes, pleural effusion, space-occupying lesions, consolidations, emphysema, and pericardial effusion.
Results: Patients receiving tPA (19.9%) were less likely to have pleural effusion (29.7% vs. 50.3%, P = 0.024). Other CTA findings did not differ between the tPA and non-tPA groups, including lung infiltrates (40.5% vs. 38.9, P = 0.857), space-occupying lesions (5.4% vs. 6.7%, P = 1), pericardial effusion (8.1% vs. 8.7%, P = 1), emphysema (21.6% vs. 17.4%, P = 0.557), lung (18.9% vs. 24.2%, P = 0.498), and mediastinal ( 24.3% vs. 25.5%, P = 0.883) lymph nodes, respectively.
Conclusion: The prevalence of pleural effusion (unilateral or bilateral) was higher in patients not treated with tPA. Therefore, in patients with a borderline condition, the presence of pleural effusion could support the decision not to give tPA treatment.