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J Thromb Haemost. 2013 Dec;11(12):2092-102. doi: 10.1111/jth.12429.

Prognostic role of embolic burden assessed at computed tomography angiography in patients with acute pulmonary embolism: systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Internal and Cardiovascular Medicine - Stroke Unit, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.



In patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE), risk stratification is indicated for tailoring of both diagnostic strategies and acute treatment. Whether embolic burden assessed at computed tomography (CT) angiography has a role in risk stratification in these patients is debated.


To systematically review and perform a meta-analysis to evaluate the role of CT-assessed burden associated with embolic obstruction and embolic localization in the prognostic stratification of patients with acute PE.


We performed a systematic search in EMBASE and MEDLINE up until 30 June 2013. Studies reporting on the 30-day outcome of patients with confirmed PE and CT-assessed embolic burden were included. The study outcome was death.


Thirty studies reporting on the prognostic value of CT-assessed embolic burden met the inclusion criteria for this systematic review; of these, 19 were included in the meta-analysis. Five studies (2215 patients) were included in the analysis of localization: an association between embolus localization in the central arteries and 30-day mortality was found after heterogeneity was resolved (odds ratio [OR] 2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.29-3.89, I(2)  = 0%). No correlation was observed between obstruction index (according to the Qanadli scoring system) and 30-day mortality after heterogeneity was reduced (16 studies, 3884 patients, OR 1.22, 95% CI 0.99-1.51, I(2)  = 27%).


Localization of emboli assessed at CT angiography can be used for risk stratification in patients with acute PE. Moreover, no correlation was observed between obstruction index and prognosis.


meta-analysis; mortality; prognosis; pulmonary embolism; tomography, X-ray computed

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