Posts Tagged ‘acute vs chronic rv dilatation’

Conventionally  pulmonary embolism is classified as massive, sub massive  based on

  1. Severity of obstruction
  2. Level of  obstruction in pulmonary anatomy (MPA,Branch PA, Segmental etc )
  3. Thrombus burden
  4. Quantum  of pulmonary vascular bed  compromised

But it is always intriguing ,    the clinical outcome was not linearly  correlating with the above parameters.

Instead the outcome seemed more dependent on the following .

  1. Degree of RV dilatation
  2. Systemic hypo-tension
  3. RV shock

Image courtesy .www.smartdraw.com

So ,  whatever be the quantum of pulmonary embolism , it is the behavior of RV that is going to determine the outcome.  The current  wisdom   demands , all hemo-dyanmically unstable pulmonary embolsim may be considered as massive or high risk pulmonary embolism and  aggressive treatment  is  to be undertaken.

Counter point

There is  one major diagnostic issue  if we depend more on hemo-dynamic instability . What is that ?

There is no valid method to identify Acuteness / chronicity of   RA, RV dilatation . Consider this  example , a patient with chronic thrombo -embolic PAH presents with  acute deterioration  due to a transient arrhythmia  or  non cardiac  cause of hypotension . He is at  risk of being labeled as  acute pulmonary embolism  since he may  show   some thrombus  in his pulmonary circulation in  CT scan .  However ,  no great harm is done as long as he receives only heparin.



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