Echocardiographic assessment with right ventricular function improvement following ultrasound-accelerated catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy in submassive pulmonary embolism

Vascular. 2018 Jun;26(3):271-277. doi: 10.1177/1708538117733645. Epub 2017 Sep 24.


Introduction The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of ultrasound-accelerated catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy in patients with submassive pulmonary embolism. Methods Clinical records of 46 patients with submassive pulmonary embolism who underwent ultrasound-accelerated catheter-directed pulmonary thrombolysis using tissue plasminogen activator, from 2007 to 2017, were analyzed. All patients experienced clinical symptoms with computed tomography evidence of pulmonary thrombus burden. Right ventricular dysfunction was present in all patients by echocardiographic finding of right ventricle-to-left ventricle ratio > 0.9. Treatment outcome, procedural complications, right ventricular pressures, and thrombus clearance were evaluated. Follow-up evaluation included echocardiographic assessment of right ventricle-to-left ventricle ratio at one month, six months, and one year. Results Technical success was achieved in all patients ( n = 46, 100%). Our patients received an average of 18.4 ± 4.7 mg of tissue plasminogen activator using ultrasound-accelerated thrombolytic catheter with an average infusion time of 16.5± 5.4 h. Clinical success was achieved in all patients (100%). Significant reduction of mean pulmonary artery pressure occurred following the treatment, which decreased from 36 ± 8 to 21 ± 5 mmHg ( p < 0.001). There were no major bleeding complications. All-cause mortality at 30 days was 0%. No patient developed recurrent pulmonary embolism during follow-up. During the follow-up period, 43 patients (93%) showed improvement of right ventricular dysfunction based on echocardiographic assessment. The right ventricle-to-left ventricle ratio decreased from 1.32 ± 0.18 to 0.91 ± 0.13 at the time of hospital discharge ( p < 0.01). The right ventricular function remained improved at 6 months and 12 months of follow-up, as right ventricle-to-left ventricle ratio were 0.92 ± 0.14 ( p < 0.01) and 0.91 ± 0.15 ( p < 0.01), respectively. Conclusion Ultrasound-accelerated catheter-directed thrombolysis is a safe and efficacious treatment for submassive pulmonary embolism. It reduces pulmonary hypertension and improves right ventricular function in patients with submassive pulmonary embolism.

Keywords: Thrombolytic therapy; pulmonary embolism; subacute pulmonary embolism.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / surgery*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy* / methods
  • Ventricular Function, Right / drug effects
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology*


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator