Factors in Pulmonary Embolus Diagnosis via CT Pulmonary Angiogram in Patients Undergoing Repair of Proximal Femur Fractures

Peter Moriarty1, *, Heather Moriarty2, Michael Maher1, James Harty1
1 Cork University Hospital Wilton, Cork, Ireland
2 Mater Misercordae University Hospital Radiology Eccles St Dublin



As imaging technology is improving, small pulmonary emboli (PE) of debatable clinical relevance are increasingly detected leading to higher numbers of patients receiving anticoagulation. Although PE are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing repair of proximal femur fractures, this cohort of patients is at increased falls risk and is therefore largely unsuitable for long-term anticoagulant therapy.


To review sequential computed tomography pulmonary angiograms (CTPA) performed in patients who underwent repair of proximal femur fractures at our institution. To establish the perioperative CT imaging performed.


A retrospective cross-sectional study of all patients undergoing proximal femur fracture repair at a single tertiary referral.


The theatre database was interrogated to reveal all patients undergoing proximal femur fracture repair over a 28 month period from 01/01/12 to 07/04/14 inclusive. This was cross-referenced with the picture archiving communication system (PACS) to establish all imaging undertaken in the perioperative period. CTPA studies performed within the time period of 1 week prior to and 6 months post proximal femur fixation were included. CTPA studies and reports were assessed for quality and findings. D Dimer results, if performed within 72 hours of the CTPA study, were recorded.


1388 patients underwent neck of femur fracture repair in the 28 month study period. In this cohort, 71 CTPA studies were performed on 71 patients (5.2%) with a mean age of 77.8 years (range 38 – 100). 53(74.6%) of studies were negative for embolus and 17 (23.9%) studies revealed clot in a pulmonary artery (1 saddle embolus, 2 main pulmonary artery emboli, 7 lobar vessel emboli, 2 segmental artery emboli, 5 subsegmental emboli).Overall PE detection rate was 1.2% of our total study population. In all 71 studies, Houndsfield unit (HU) in the main pulmonary artery (PA) was >200; which is considered to be of satisfactory quality to assess for segmental pulmonary emboli. 32% of patients had D Dimer levels performed, however no relationship with the presence of PE on CTPA was demonstrated.


The rate of positive CTPA studies in patients undergoing proximal femur fracture repair is 23.9% in our patient population, comparing favorably to published data. This is likely to reflect good compliance with prevention measures at ward level. D-Dimer results are unreliable for PE prediction.

Keywords: Hip fracture, Pulmonary emboli, CTPA, Pulmonary angiogram.

Abstract Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2018
Volume: 12
Publisher Item Identifier: EA-TOORTHJ-2018-1

Article History:

Received Date: 04/3/2018
Revision Received Date: 4/4/2018
Acceptance Date: 18/4/2018
Electronic publication date: 14/5/2018
Collection year: 2018

© 2018 Moriarty et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Correspondence: Address correspondence to this author at the Cork University Hospital Wilton, Cork, Ireland; Tel: +353863823949; E-mail: petem1988@gmail.com; petermoriarty@rcsi.ie