Pulmonary Embolism - Exams and Tests

Diagnosing pulmonary embolism is difficult, because there are many other medical conditions, such as a heart attack or an anxiety attack, that can cause similar symptoms.

Diagnosis depends on an accurate and thorough medical history and ruling out other conditions. Your doctor will need to know about your symptoms and risk factors for pulmonary embolism. This information, combined with a careful physical exam, will point to the initial tests that are best suited to diagnose a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

Tests that are often done if you have shortness of breath or chest pain include:

Further testing may include:

After your doctor has determined that you have a pulmonary embolism, other tests can help guide treatment and suggest how well you will recover. These tests may include:

  • A blood test to check the level of the hormone brain natriuretic peptide (BNP). Higher levels of BNP mean your heart is under increased stress.
  • A blood test to look at the level of the protein troponin. Higher levels of troponin can mean there is damage to your heart muscle.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.