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When should we use diagnostic imaging to investigate for pulmonary embolism in pregnant and postpartum women?
  1. Steve Goodacre1,
  2. Catherine Nelson-Piercy2,
  3. Beverley Hunt3,
  4. Wee-Shian Chan4
  1. 1School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Women's Health Academic Centre, Guy's & St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3Departments of Haematology and Rheumatology, Guy's & St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  4. 4Department of Medicine, British Columbia Women's Hospital and Health Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Steve Goodacre, ScHARR, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield, S1 4DA, UK; s.goodacre{at}


Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a leading cause of death in pregnancy and postpartum. Clinicians face a difficult choice when deciding whether to use diagnostic imaging to investigate for suspected PE in these patients, between risking potentially catastrophic consequences of missed diagnosis if imaging is withheld and risking unnecessary iatrogenic harm to both mother and fetus if imaging is overused. This paper explores the options for imaging and evidence for the use of clinical features, clinical predictions scores or biomarkers to select pregnant and postpartum women for imaging. It also considers where future research could be most appropriately directed.

  • thrombo-embolic disease
  • obstetrics and gynaecology

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