Ambulatory management of pulmonary embolism: a pragmatic evaluation

J Thromb Haemost. 2010 Nov;8(11):2406-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1538-7836.2010.03981.x.


Background: Patients diagnosed with pulmonary embolism should be considered for treatment on an outpatient basis; however, this practise is not accepted in many centers.

Objectives: Review the safety and efficacy of ambulatory management of patients with pulmonary embolism at our institution.

Patients/methods: This was a retrospective single center cohort study of consecutive patients diagnosed with idiopathic or secondary pulmonary embolism between January 2003 and January 2008 at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, Canada. Patients were eligible for outpatient management of pulmonary embolism if they were hemodynamically stable, did not require oxygen therapy, did not require parenteral narcotics for pain management, and were not felt to be high risk for a major hemorrhage. Patients were assessed at 3 months for thrombosis recurrence and major bleeding episodes.

Results: Six hundred and thirty-nine patients were included in the study, of which 314 (49.1%; 95% CI 45.2, 53.1) were managed as outpatients; among these there were three (0.95%; 95% CI, 0.25, 3) thrombotic recurrences and three hemorrhagic events. There were nine deaths (2.9%; 95% CI, 1.4, 5.6), all due to underlying cancer and all occurring after the first 7 days of treatment.

Conclusions: Outpatient management of uncomplicated pulmonary embolism seems safe and effective in the absence of other indications for hospital admission.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Cardiology / methods*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thromboembolism / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight
  • Oxygen