Surgical Management and Mechanical Circulatory Support in High-Risk Pulmonary Embolisms: Historical Context, Current Status, and Future Directions: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2023 Feb 28;147(9):e628-e647. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001117. Epub 2023 Jan 23.


Acute pulmonary embolism is the third leading cause of cardiovascular death, with most pulmonary embolism-related mortality associated with acute right ventricular failure. Although there has recently been increased clinical attention to acute pulmonary embolism with the adoption of multidisciplinary pulmonary embolism response teams, mortality of patients with pulmonary embolism who present with hemodynamic compromise remains high when current guideline-directed therapy is followed. Because historical data and practice patterns affect current consensus treatment recommendations, surgical embolectomy has largely been relegated to patients who have contraindications to other treatments or when other treatment modalities fail. Despite a selection bias toward patients with greater illness, a growing body of literature describes the safety and efficacy of the surgical management of acute pulmonary embolism, especially in the hemodynamically compromised population. The purpose of this document is to describe modern techniques, strategies, and outcomes of surgical embolectomy and venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and to suggest strategies to better understand the role of surgery in the management of pulmonary embolisms.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; cardiopulmonary bypass; cardiopulmonary resuscitation; embolectomy; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; heart failure; pulmonary embolism; survival.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • American Heart Association
  • Cardiovascular System*
  • Embolectomy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome