Echocardiography in the management of pulmonary embolism

Ann Intern Med. 2002 May 7;136(9):691-700. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-136-9-200205070-00012.


Echocardiography is not recommended as a routine imaging test to diagnose suspected pulmonary embolism. However, it is useful for identifying patients with pulmonary embolism who may have a poor prognosis. It can be used for rapid and accurate risk assessment. Moderate or severe right ventricular hypokinesis, persistent pulmonary hypertension, a patent foramen ovale, and free-floating right-heart thrombus are echocardiographic markers that identify patients at risk for death or recurrent thromboembolism. Such patients warrant consideration for thrombolysis or embolectomy. Serial imaging of right ventricular function can help physicians monitor the effect of treatment and judge whether the selected management strategy is successful. Further research will clarify and define more precisely the utility and limitations of echocardiography in the management of pulmonary embolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Echocardiography*
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal
  • Heart Diseases / complications
  • Heart Diseases / drug therapy
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / complications
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombolytic Therapy
  • Thrombosis / complications
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / physiopathology