Background: Systemic thrombolysis for acute pulmonary embolism (PE) carries up to a 20% risk of major bleeding, including a 2% to 5% risk of hemorrhagic stroke. We evaluated the safety and effectiveness of catheter-directed therapy (CDT) as an alternative treatment of acute PE.
Methods: One hundred one consecutive patients receiving CDT for acute PE were prospectively enrolled in a multicenter registry. Massive PE (n = 28) and submassive PE (n = 73) were treated with immediate catheter-directed mechanical or pharmacomechanical thrombectomy and/or catheter-directed thrombolysis through low-dose hourly drug infusion with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or urokinase. Clinical success was defined as meeting all the following criteria: stabilization of hemodynamics; improvement in pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart strain, or both; and survival to hospital discharge. Primary safety outcomes were major procedure-related complications and major bleeding events.
Results: Fifty-three men and 48 women (average age, 60 years [range, 22-86 years]; mean BMI, 31.03 ± 7.20 kg/m2) were included in the study. The average thrombolytic doses were 28.0 ± 11 mg tPA (n = 76) and 2,697,101 ± 936,287 International Units for urokinase (n = 23). Clinical success was achieved in 24 of 28 patients with massive PE (85.7%; 95% CI, 67.3%-96.0%) and 71 of 73 patients with submassive PE (97.3%; 95% CI, 90.5%-99.7%). The mean pulmonary artery pressure improved from 51.17 ± 14.06 to 37.23 ± 15.81 mm Hg (n = 92) (P < .0001). Among patients monitored with follow-up echocardiography, 57 of 64 (89.1%; 95% CI, 78.8%-95.5%; P < .0001) showed improvement in right-sided heart strain. There were no major procedure-related complications, major hemorrhages, or hemorrhagic strokes.
Conclusions: CDT improves clinical outcomes in patients with acute PE while minimizing the risk of major bleeding. At experienced centers, CDT is a safe and effective treatment of both acute massive and submassive PE.
Trial registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT01097928; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.