Background Computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTA) is the gold standard for diagnosing pulmonary embolism (PE) but involves radiation and iodinated contrast exposure. Of orthopedic patients evaluated for PE, a minority have a positive CTA study. Herein, we evaluate end tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2) as a method to identify patients at low risk for PE and may not require a CTA. We hypothesize that ETCO2 will be useful for predicting the absence of PE in postoperative orthopedic patients. Methods In this prospective study, all patients older than 18 years who were admitted for orthopedic surgery and who had a CTA performed for PE were eligible. These patients underwent an ETCO2 measurement. Patients were determined to have PE if they had a positive PE-protocol CT. Results Between May 2014 and April 2015, 121 patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Of these patients, 84 had a negative CTA examination, 25 had a positive examination, and 12 had a nondiagnostic examination. We found a statistically significant difference (P =.03) when comparing the average ETCO2 values for the positive and negative CTA groups. An ETCO2 cutoff value of 43 mm Hg was 100% sensitive with a negative predictive value of 100% for absence of PE on CTA. Conclusion This study demonstrates a significant difference in ETCO2 measurements between postoperative orthopedic patients with and without CTA-detected PE. A cutoff value of >43 mm Hg may be useful in excluding patients from undergoing CTA.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- diagnostic tool
- orthopedic surgery
- prospective study
- pulmonary embolism