Pulmonary embolectomy in high-risk acute pulmonary embolism: The effectiveness of a comprehensive therapeutic algorithm including extracorporeal life support

Meng Yu Wu, Yuan Chang Liu, Yuan His Tseng, Yu Sheng Chang, Pyng Jing Lin, Tzu I. Wu

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness of a comprehensive therapeutic algorithm including extracorporeal life support (ECLS) in high-risk acute pulmonary embolism (aPE) treated with pulmonary embolectomy. Materials and methods: This retrospective study included 25 consecutive patients of aPE treated with pulmonary embolectomy in a single institution between June 2005 and July 2012. All patients had high-risk aPE identified by computed tomographic angiography and were not suitable for thrombolytic therapy. High-risk aPE here was defined as aPE with (1) hemodynamic instability, (2) a pulmonary artery obstruction index (PAOI). ≥. 0.5, (3) a diameter ratio of right ventricle-to-left ventricle (RV-to-LV). ≥. 1.0, or (4) right heart thrombi. Once the eligibility was confirmed, a 3-staged therapeutic algorithm was adopted to perform an aggressive preoperative resuscitation, an expeditious pulmonary embolectomy with multidisciplinary postoperative care, and a thorough surveillance for recurrence. Results: Among the 25 patients, 24 had a PAOI. ≥. 0.5 and 23 had a RV-to-LV diameter ratio. ≥. 1.0. Four patients had right heart thrombi. Sixteen patients developed preoperative instability requiring inotropic and/or mechanical support. Eight in the 16 had a preoperative cardiac arrest (CA) and six of these were bridged to surgery on ECLS. Three in the 6 patients weaned ECLS after surgery and survived to discharge. The overall in-hospital mortality was 20% (n= 5). A preoperative CA (Odds ratio [OR]: 16, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.4-185.4, p=0.027, c-index: 0.80) and a postoperative requirement of ECLS (OR: 36, 95% CI: 2.1-501.3, p= 0.008, c-index: 0.85) was the pre- and postoperative predictor of in-hospital mortality. No late deaths or re-admission for recurrence were found during a median follow-up of 19 months (interquartile range: 8-29). Conclusion: Pulmonary embolectomy was an effective intervention of high-risk aPE. However, the occurrence of preoperative CA still carried a high mortality in spite of the assistance of ECLS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1365-1370
Number of pages6
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013



  • Acute pulmonary embolism
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Extracorporeal life support
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Pulmonary embolectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Emergency
  • Emergency Medicine

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