Endovascular Therapy for Acute Pulmonary Embolism

J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2012 Feb;23(2):167-79.e4; quiz 179. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2011.10.012. Epub 2011 Dec 20.


Acute pulmonary embolism (PE) is the third most common cause of death among hospitalized patients. Treatment escalation beyond anticoagulation therapy is necessary in patients with massive PE (defined by hemodynamic shock) as well as in many patients with submassive PE (defined by right ventricular strain). The best current evidence suggests that modern catheter-directed therapy to achieve rapid central clot debulking should be considered as an early or first-line treatment option for patients with acute massive PE; and emerging evidence suggests a catheter-directed thrombolytic infusion should be considered as adjunctive therapy for many patients with acute submassive PE. This article reviews the current approach to endovascular therapy for acute PE in the context of appropriate diagnosis, risk stratification, and management of acute massive and acute submassive PE.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiography / methods*
  • Endovascular Procedures / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy*
  • Radiography, Interventional / methods*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*