SNMMI Issues Updated Statement: COVID-19 and V/Q Lung Studies

September 18, 2023

As a professional society representing more than 16,000 nuclear medicine professionals, it is our objective to ensure the health and safety of our patients and members by distributing recommendations to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in clinical practice. We understand the often-overlapping symptoms that COVID-19 and pulmonary embolism can present and appreciate the diagnostic importance of the ventilation portion of the ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) scan for patient care.

On March 19, 2020, SNMMI released a statement responding to concerns regarding V/Q lung scans and, specifically, the inherent risk of spread of COVID-19 to patients and staff related to the ventilation portion of the study. At that time, many institutions opted not to perform ventilation studies.

Subsequently, on September 3, 2020, SNMMI released an updated statement noting that since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had evolved differently in various regions of the world and, with increased availability of COVID-19 PCR testing, resumption of ventilation studies could be considered in some scenarios.

In September 2021, SNMMI considered the significant developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and updated the guidance again.

Now, in September 2023, as the COVID-19 public health emergency continues to evolve, SNMMI issues updated guidance:

SNMMI believes that ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) lung scans are safe to perform when local regulatory and institutional standard procedures and guidelines are followed. Similarly, if a patient is suspected of having or has confirmed COVID-19 or if a surge in COVID-19 cases or other serious respiratory illness, then it is imperative in such scenarios to stay vigilant and follow your local policies and procedures regarding patient and staff safety precautions and protocols.

References and Safety Recommendations

  1. Parker JA, Coleman RE, Grady E, et al. SNM Practice Guideline for Lung Scintigraphy 4.0. JNMT Mar 2012, 40 (1) 57-65; DOI: 10.2967/jnmt.111.101386
  2. Waxman AD, Bajc M, Brown M, et al. Appropriate Use Criteria for Ventilation–Perfusion Imaging in Pulmonary Embolism: Summary and Excerpts. J of Nucl Med. 2017; 58 (5);13N-15N;