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N Engl J Med. 2016 Oct 20;375(16):1524-1531.

Prevalence of Pulmonary Embolism among Patients Hospitalized for Syncope.

Author information

1
From the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, Vascular Medicine Unit, University of Padua, Padua (P.P., A.W.A.L.), the Department of Internal and Emergency Medicine, San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital, Rome (M.C.), the Department of Internal and Emergency Medicine, Civic Hospital of Camposampiero, Camposampiero (M.P., S.B.), the Department of Internal Medicine, Civic Hospital of Livorno, Livorno (N.M.), the Angiology Unit, Civic Hospital of Ravenna, Ravenna (E.B.), the Angiology Unit, Civic Hospital of Castelfranco Veneto, Castelfranco Veneto (A.V.), the Department of Internal Medicine, Civic Hospital of Cosenza, Cosenza (C.B.), the Department of Internal Medicine, Civic Hospital of Piacenza, Piacenza (D.I.), and the Department of Economics, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Venice (S.C.) - all in Italy; and the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Technology Assessment, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, the Netherlands (M.H.P.).

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The prevalence of pulmonary embolism among patients hospitalized for syncope is not well documented, and current guidelines pay little attention to a diagnostic workup for pulmonary embolism in these patients.

METHODS:

We performed a systematic workup for pulmonary embolism in patients admitted to 11 hospitals in Italy for a first episode of syncope, regardless of whether there were alternative explanations for the syncope. The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was ruled out in patients who had a low pretest clinical probability, which was defined according to the Wells score, in combination with a negative d-dimer assay. In all other patients, computed tomographic pulmonary angiography or ventilation-perfusion lung scanning was performed.

RESULTS:

A total of 560 patients (mean age, 76 years) were included in the study. A diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was ruled out in 330 of the 560 patients (58.9%) on the basis of the combination of a low pretest clinical probability of pulmonary embolism and negative d-dimer assay. Among the remaining 230 patients, pulmonary embolism was identified in 97 (42.2%). In the entire cohort, the prevalence of pulmonary embolism was 17.3% (95% confidence interval, 14.2 to 20.5). Evidence of an embolus in a main pulmonary or lobar artery or evidence of perfusion defects larger than 25% of the total area of both lungs was found in 61 patients. Pulmonary embolism was identified in 45 of the 355 patients (12.7%) who had an alternative explanation for syncope and in 52 of the 205 patients (25.4%) who did not.

CONCLUSIONS:

Pulmonary embolism was identified in nearly one of every six patients hospitalized for a first episode of syncope. (Funded by the University of Padua; PESIT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01797289 .).

PMID:
27797317
DOI:
10.1056/NEJMoa1602172
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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