Prognostic value of echocardiographically assessed right ventricular dysfunction in patients with pulmonary embolism

Arch Intern Med. 2004 Aug;164(15):1685-9. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.15.1685.


Background: Echocardiographically assessed right ventricular dysfunction is increasingly used to guide more aggressive therapy in hemodynamically stable patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE). However, the prognostic value of right ventricular dysfunction in these patients is still unclear.

Methods: We systemically reviewed the literature to assess the prevalence of echocardiographic right ventricular dysfunction and the association with adverse outcomes in patients with PE who had this condition. The methodologic quality of each study was scored. Absolute risks of the outcome events were calculated for each study separately, and positive predictive values of PE-related mortality were determined for normotensive patients.

Results: Seven studies were included. All had methodologic shortcomings, but they suggested an at least 2-fold increased risk of PE-related mortality in patients with right ventricular dysfunction, the prevalence of which varied from 40% to 70%. However, this seems to be less convincing in hemodynamically stable patients. The only 2 studies that allowed for an estimation of the accuracy in normotensive patients showed low positive predictive values of echocardiographic right ventricular dysfunction for PE-related in-hospital mortality (positive predictive value, 4% and 5% in the 2 studies).

Conclusion: It remains unclear whether echocardiographic right ventricular dysfunction is a prevalent and reliable predictor of adverse outcomes in hemodynamically stable patients with acute PE.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Echocardiography*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / epidemiology