What is pulmonary thromboembolism?
Pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) is a common disease that can be fatal. It is generally asymptomatic but can be very serious.
It is defined as the obstruction of the pulmonary arteries and/or their branches by a thrombus or clot (in the vast majority of cases), fat, air, tumors, or foreign materials which come from another part of the body or from outside.
Pulmonary thromboembolism symptoms
PTE can be symptomatic or asymptomatic, acute, subacute, or chronic, and, depending on its severity, hemodynamically stable or unstable (low blood pressure).
Most PTE are due to thrombi originating in the lower limbs.
Its onset is so variable that it goes from no symptoms to sudden death. The most frequent symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and symptoms associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) of the lower limbs.
Diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary thromboembolism
Diagnosis is made with clinical probability scales (Wells scale), laboratory tests (D-dimer), and imaging studies, among which the most widely used is CT angiography with DVT and PTE protocol.
Once PTE has been diagnosed, the necessary measures must be established to improve the signs and symptoms, mainly hemodynamic stabilization and oxygenation percentage in the blood.
Anticoagulation is the pillar of PTE treatment, which must be started immediately.
The need for thrombolysis (clot dilution), whether mechanical, pharmacological, or both, should be assessed. Placement of a vena cava filter should also be considered in well-selected cases.
PTE can be complicated by recurrent PTE or Cor Pulmonale, a condition in which the heart is affected by hypertension in the pulmonary arterial system.
PTE has a 30% mortality if left untreated.
Anticoagulation should be maintained for long periods (8 to 18 months).
At ABC Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!
Dr. Claudio Alberto Ramírez Cerda – Vascular and Endovascular Surgery specialist at ABC Medical Center.