Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism is when you get a blood clot or other blockage in one of the large veins leading to your lungs. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include difficulty breathing or pain in the chest while breathing. At times this type of embolism can be caused by pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the veins that lead to the lungs. If caught in time, a pulmonary embolism can be treated with heparin or other anticoagulants to dispel the clot.

When a doctor suspects a pulmonary embolism, he or she may suggest a pulmonary function test to ensure the lungs are functioning properly, ruling out pulmonary fibrosis or pulmonary edema as the cause of the shortness of breath. A better choice would be a CT pulmonary angiogram. The CT pulmonary angiogram takes of the lungs and the veins leading to the lungs, allowing doctors to see any blockage.

Pulmonary edema and pulmonary fibrosis can also be fatal. So the CT pulmonary angiogram is the fastest and least invasive way to determine whether the symptoms are a result of a pulmonary embolism, fluid in the lungs, called pulmonary edema, or scarring in the lungs, called pulmonary fibrosis. Doctors need to work quickly to determine the best treatment, preventing these conditions from becoming fatal.