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Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Dec;90(6):1747-52. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2010.08.002.

Early and late clinical outcomes of pulmonary embolectomy for acute massive pulmonary embolism.

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Wessex Cardiothoracic Centre, Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, Southampton, United Kingdom.



The aim of this study was to investigate the early and late outcomes of patients undergoing pulmonary embolectomy for acute massive pulmonary embolus.


Twenty-one patients (15 male, 6 female) underwent pulmonary embolectomy at our institution between March 2001 and July 2010. The median age was 55 years (range, 24 to 70 years). Of these, 9 patients presented with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and 8 presented with New York Heart Association class III or IV. Sixteen patients underwent preoperative transthoracic echocardiography, which showed evidence of right ventricular dilatation in all, whereas in 14 patients (66.6%) pulmonary artery pressures were significantly elevated with moderate to severe tricuspid regurgitation. The median preoperative Euroscore was 9 (range, 3 to 16), and 11 patients (52.1%) received systemic thrombolysis preoperatively. There were 6 salvage (28.5%), 10 emergency (47.6%), and 5 urgent (23.8%) procedures. Concomitant procedures were performed in 3 patients (14.2%), and surgery was performed without the use of cardiopulmonary bypass in 3 patients (14.2%). The median follow-up was 38 months (range, 0 to 114 months).


The in-hospital mortality was 19% (n = 4). Postoperative complications included stroke (n = 3, 14.2%), lower respiratory tract infection (n = 6, 28.5%), wound infection (n = 3, 14.2%), acute renal failure requiring hemofiltration (n = 4, 19%), and supraventricular tachyarrhythmias (n = 4, 19%). At discharge, transthoracic echocardiography showed mild to moderate right ventricular dysfunction and dilatation in 11 survivors (64.7%). Two patients died during follow-up, and actuarial survival at 5 years was 76.9% ± 10.1% and at 8 years was 51.2% ± 22.0%. At final follow-up, 11 of the 15 survivors (73.3%) were New York Heart Association class I, and no patients required further intervention.


Patients who undergo surgery for massive pulmonary embolism have an acceptable outcome despite being high-risk.

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