Treatment guidelines recommend strong consideration of thrombolysis in patients with acute symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE) that present with arterial hypotension or shock because of the high risk of death in this setting. For haemodynamically stable patients with PE, the categorization of risk for subgroups may assist with decision-making regarding PE therapy. Clinical models [e.g. Pulmonary Embolism Severity Index (PESI)] may accurately identify those at low risk of overall death in the first 3 months after the diagnosis of PE, and such patients might benefit from an abbreviated hospital stay or outpatient therapy. Though some evidence suggests that a subset of high-risk normotensive patients with PE may have a reasonable risk to benefit ratio for thrombolytic therapy, single markers of right ventricular dysfunction (e.g. echocardiography, spiral computed tomography, or brain natriuretic peptide testing) and myocardial injury (e.g. cardiac troponin T or I testing) have an insufficient positive predictive value for PE-specific mortality to drive decision-making toward such therapy. Recommendations for outpatient treatment or thrombolytic therapy for patients with PE necessitate further development of prognostic models and conduct of clinical trials that assess various treatment strategies.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.