Westermark sign

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Westermark sign

Template:Search infobox Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


In chest radiography, the Westermark Sign, is a sign that represents a focus of oligemia (vasoconstriction) seen distal to a pulmonary embolus (PE).[1] While the chest x-ray is abnormal in the majority of PE cases, the Westermark sign is seen in only 2% of patients.[2]

The sign results from a combination of:

  1. the dilation of the pulmonary arteries proximal to the embolus and
  2. the collapse of the distal vasculature creating the appearance of a sharp cut off on chest radiography.

Sensitivity and specificity

The Westermark sign, like Hampton's hump (a wedge shaped, pleural based consolidation associated with pulmonary infarction), has a low sensitivity (11%) and high specificity (92%) for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolus.[3]


  1. Ray J (2003). "Westermark sign and suspected pulmonary embolism". Can J Cardiol. 19 (3): 317, author reply 317. PMID 12680403.
  2. Worsley D, Alavi A, Aronchick J, Chen J, Greenspan R, Ravin C (1993). "Chest radiographic findings in patients with acute pulmonary embolism: observations from the PIOPED Study". Radiology. 189 (1): 133–6. PMID 8372182.
  3. Gurney J. CT: Diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism. chestx-ray.com. Available at: http://www.chestx-ray.com/Lectures/PulmEmbLecture/PulmEmbolus.pdf. Accessed on: November 13, 2006.

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