Acute Perioperative Pulmonary Embolism—Management Strategies and Outcomes

J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2020 Jul;34(7):1972-1984

Exposure to contemporary concepts related to PE management is important for all physicians caring for perioperative patients.

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Acute pulmonary embolism (PE) is a potentially fatal event, even if recognized immediately and treated appropriately. PE events that are deemed clinically minor at the time of diagnosis may lead to chronic cardiopulmonary failure over time if chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension develops. Unfortunately, PE may be hard to diagnose—especially in times of clinical crisis—and patients in extremis owing to PE require immediate, accurate care to prevent death; up to a third of patients with PE die within hours of the acute event.

Because cardiothoracic anesthesiologists and intensivists are often on the front lines of identification, diagnosis, and management of patients with acute onset hemodynamic and respiratory derangements, a foundational knowledge of contemporary management of patients who have (or are suspected to have) PE is important.