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Rev Clin Esp. 2012 Apr;212(4):165-71. doi: 10.1016/j.rce.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

[Unsuspected pulmonary thromboembolism in the Emergency Department].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Neumología, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, España.



Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a disease that sometimes has a significant delay in diagnosis. This situation may lead to an increase in morbidity and mortality in patients who have it. The aim of our study has been to define the clinical profile of patients with unsuspected PE in the emergency department and the factors that influence the delayed diagnosis.


A total of 148 patients admitted with diagnosis of PE confirmed by CT (n=133) or by high-probability ventilation-perfusion scintigraphy scan (n=15) were retrospectively analyzed. They were divided into two groups: those with unsuspected disease in the emergency department (USPE) and those who it was suspected (SPE). Baseline characteristics of the patients, risk factors, signs and symptoms in the emergency department, complementary test, days of hospitalization and mortality were studied.


The USPE was found in 63/148 patients (42.6%) in the emergency department. Dyspnea and chest pain were the most frequent clinical manifestations of this disease, this being more commonly identified in the SPE group than in the USPE group, with significant differences (OR=0.4 [0.2-0.9] for dyspnea and OR=0.3 [0.2-0.7] for chest pain). However, However, the presence of thrombocytopenia (OR=3.4 [1.1-10.2], P<.05), normal electrocardiogram (EC) (OR=3.4 [1.1-10.2], P<.05), and localization of PE in right lung (OR=4.7 [2-11.3], P<.001) were risk factors for not suspect it. Days of hospitalization, days of symptoms and mortality were not statistically different between groups.


According to the results, the proportion of unsuspected PE in the emergency department was high (close to 40%). The presence of dyspnea and chest pain was associated to suspicion of SPE. On the contrary, the presence of thrombocytopenia, normal EC and right localization of PE were associated to the non-suspicion of SPE in the emergency department.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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