Outpatient treatment of symptomatic pulmonary embolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Thromb Res. 2013 Nov;132(5):515-9. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2013.08.012. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Background: Patients with acute deep vein thrombus (DVT) can safely be treated as outpatients. However the role of outpatient treatment in patients diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (PE) is controversial. We sought to determine the safety of outpatient management of patients with acute symptomatic PE.

Materials and methods: A systematic literature search strategy was conducted using MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials and all EBM Reviews. Pooled proportions for the different outcomes were calculated.

Results: A total of 1258 patients were included in the systematic review. The rate of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with PE managed as outpatients was 1.47% (95% CI: 0.47 to 3.0%; I(2): 65.4%) during the 3 month follow-up period. The rate of fatal PE was 0.47% (95% CI: 0.16 to 1.0%; I(2): 0%). The rates of major bleeding and fatal intracranial hemorrhage were 0.81% (95% CI: 0.37 to 1.42%; I(2): 0%) and 0.29% (95% CI: 0.06 to 0.68%; I(2): 0%), respectively. The overall 3 month mortality rate was 1.58% (95% CI: 0.71 to 2.80%; I(2): 45%). The event rates were similar if employing risk stratification models versus using clinical gestalt to select appropriate patients for outpatient management.

Conclusions: Independent of the risk stratification methods used, the rate of adverse events associated with outpatient PE treatment seems low. Based on our systematic review and pooled meta-analysis, low-risk patients with acute PE can safely be treated as outpatients if home circumstances are adequate.

Keywords: ACCP; American College of Chest Physicians; CI; CT Pulmonary Angiogram; CTPA; Confidence Interval; DVT; Deep vein thrombus; EBM; Evidence Based Medicine; ICH; Intracranial Hemorrhage; LMWH; Low Molecular Weight Heparin; Major bleeding; Mortality; N-terminal Pro-hormone of Brain Natriuretic Peptide; NT-proBNP; Outpatient management; PE; PESI; Pulmonary Embolism; Pulmonary Embolism Severity Index; Pulmonary embolism; RCTs; Randomized Controlled Trials; UFH; Unfractionated Heparin; V/Q; VTE; VTE recurrence; Venous Thromboembolism; Ventilation-perfusion.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care* / methods
  • Hemorrhage / complications
  • Humans
  • Outpatients
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy*
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venous Thromboembolism / complications
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control