Study finds risk of pulmonary embolism from ultrasound

January 29, 2016, Yale University
Study finds risk of pulmonary embolism from ultrasound
Credit: Shutterstock

Ultrasound is the most common technique for detecting a widespread cardiovascular condition: blood clots in the leg, otherwise known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). But there's a little known—yet serious—risk to using ultrasound to diagnose DVT, say Yale researchers in a new study published this week by Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis.

Principal investigator and senior author Dr. Behnood Bikdeli and his colleagues suspected that the pressure from an ultrasound exam could cause a clot to break off and travel to the lungs where it could form a potentially fatal blockage, or embolism. To determine the extent of this deadly complication, the researchers conducted an exhaustive and highly sensitive review of more than 3,600 published articles. They not only found cases of resulting from for DVT, but several separate reports that claimed to be the first to see the connection. While rare, it is an "under-recognized and underreported condition," said Bikdeli.

Ultrasound is still the safest method of diagnosing DVT, but the study authors concluded that both clinicians and radiologists need to be more aware of the phenomenon and take precautions. For example, if a patient has a large clot or becomes short of breath after an exam, clinicians should check for the complication. "Be mindful of it," he noted. "Otherwise, it can lead to a fatal event."

Additionally, "our study also signifies the importance of the search strategy," said Bikdeli. "A prior systematic review had erroneously claimed that no reports existed about this phenomenon. Clinicians and researchers who look for uncommon or rare clinical events should either develop advanced skills for highly sensitive searching or collaborate with medical librarians who have the expertise of building sophisticated search queries for such purposes."

Explore further: Very low yield for imaging of both legs in suspected DVT

More information: Ghazaleh Mehdipoor et al. Pulmonary Embolism As a Consequence of Ultrasonographic Examination of Extremities for Suspected Venous Thrombosis: A Systematic Review, Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis (2016). DOI: 10.1055/s-0036-1571336

Related Stories

Very low yield for imaging of both legs in suspected DVT

January 23, 2015
(HealthDay)—For patients with clinically suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT), systematic imaging of both legs has a very low yield, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

Few Canadians aware of dangers of blood clots

October 16, 2015
Few Canadians realize that thrombosis, or blood clots, is behind one in four deaths, and fewer know that it is treatable and largely preventable, says a new study.

New guideline aims to help physicians manage deep vein blood clots in patients

September 28, 2015
A new Canadian guideline aims to help physicians identify and manage blood clots, specifically iliofemoral deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in the groin and thigh.

Common vein condition increases risk for developing life-threating blood clots

August 17, 2011
Patients with clinically diagnosed superficial vein thrombosis (SVT), a blood clot in the veins just beneath the skin that commonly resolves on its own without treatment, are four to six times more likely to develop venous ...

Recommended for you

Ambitious global virome project could mark end of pandemic era

February 23, 2018
Rather than wait for viruses like Ebola, SARS and Zika to become outbreaks that force the world to react, a new global initiative seeks to proactively identify, prepare for and stop viral threats before they become pandemics.

Forecasting antibiotic resistance with a 'weather map' of local data

February 23, 2018
The resistance that infectious microbes have to antibiotics makes it difficult for physicians to confidently select the right drug to treat an infection. And that resistance is dynamic: It changes from year to year and varies ...

Study reveals how kidney disease happens

February 22, 2018
Monash researchers have solved a mystery, revealing how certain immune cells work together to instigate autoimmune kidney disease.

Scientists gain new insight on how antibodies interact with widespread respiratory virus

February 22, 2018
Scientists have found and characterized the activity of four antibodies produced by the human immune system that target an important protein found in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to new research published ...

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.