Pulmonary embolectomy: Recommendation for early surgical intervention

Enisa M. Carvalho, Francisco Igor B. MacEdo, Anthony Panos, Marco Ricci, Tomas A. Salerno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Acute pulmonary embolism (PE) is a life-threatening disease which often results in death if not diagnosed early and treated aggressively. Despite all efforts at improving outcomes, there is no consensus on the management of acute severe PE. Methods: From May 2000 to June 2009, 16 consecutive patients underwent surgical pulmonary embolectomy at our institution. Mean age was 45 ± 17 years (range, 14 to 76) with nine (56%) males and seven (43%) females. Preoperatively, all cases were classified as massive PE; seven (43%) patients were in hemodynamic collapse and emergently underwent operation while receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Results: There were nine (56%) urgent/emergent and seven (44%) salvage patients undergoing surgical pulmonary embolectomy. Of nine nonsalvage patients, seven (77%) patients presented with moderate to severe right ventricular (RV) dilation/dysfunction. Mean cardiopulmonary bypass time was 43 ± 41 minutes (range, 9 to 161). Mean follow-up duration was 48 ± 38 months (range: 0.3 to 109), with seven in-hospital deaths (43%): mortality was 11% (1/9) in emergent operations and 85% (6/7) in salvage operations. Conclusions: Surgical pulmonary embolectomy should be considered early in the management of hemodynamically stable patients with PE who show evidence of RV dilation and/or failure, as it is associated with satisfactory outcomes. Conversely, pulmonary embolectomy has dismal results under salvage conditions. Revision of current guidelines for the surgical management of this condition may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of cardiac surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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