Document Detail

Pulmonary embolism: difficulties in the clinical diagnosis.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  7481126     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Pulmonary embolism is a common disease in the United States, affecting as many as 500,000 persons annually. Unfortunately, underdiagnosis of the disorder is also common, resulting in significant excess morbidity and mortality rates. Factors such as a lack of symptoms or the unavailability of effective testing techniques are not the reasons for pulmonary embolism's underdiagnosis. Instead, the disease is often often overlooked because the symptoms and signs caused by pulmonary embolism are nonspecific and may be confused with a variety of other cardiopulmonary disorders that have similar presentations. In addition to this overlap of symptoms and signs, pulmonary embolism frequently coexists with those diseases it mimics. This article describes the clinical characteristics of pulmonary venous thromboembolism, reviewing the symptoms and signs it typically exhibits, as well as the disease's routine laboratory test and chest radiographic abnormalities. These are contrasted with the clinical features of pneumonia, the disease for which pulmonary embolism is most commonly mistaken. I will show that clinical features can be used to increase suspicion for pulmonary embolism, but that additional diagnostic testing is necessary to definitively diagnose or exclude the condition. Accurate diagnostic tests are available for venous thromboembolism, even in the face of other coexistent cardiopulmonary disorders. As such, it should be possible to significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality rates caused by pulmonary embolism through both heightened clinical awareness and appropriate use of diagnostic testing strategies.
N B Hampson
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Seminars in respiratory infections     Volume:  10     ISSN:  0882-0546     ISO Abbreviation:  Semin Respir Infect     Publication Date:  1995 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1995-12-28     Completed Date:  1995-12-28     Revised Date:  2005-11-16    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8700961     Medline TA:  Semin Respir Infect     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  123-30     Citation Subset:  IM    
Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA 98111, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Diagnosis, Differential
Diagnostic Tests, Routine
Lung / radiography,  radionuclide imaging
Pneumonia / diagnosis
Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*,  epidemiology
Risk Factors
United States / epidemiology

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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