Quantitative two-dimensional echocardiography in massive pulmonary embolism: emphasis on ventricular interdependence and leftward septal displacement

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1987 Dec;10(6):1201-6. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(87)80119-5.


In 14 patients requiring aggressive therapy for circulatory failure resulting from massive pulmonary embolism, hemodynamic and two-dimensional echocardiographic data were obtained at bedside (acute phase) and again after circulatory improvement (intermediate phase) and during recovery. The acute stage was characterized by a low cardiac output state despite inotropic support (cardiac index 1.9 +/- 0.6 liters/min per m2) associated with increased right atrial pressure (12.4 +/- 4.2 mm Hg), increased right ventricular end-systolic and end-diastolic area (12.4 +/- 3.4 and 15.4 +/- 4.1 cm2/m2, respectively) and reduced right ventricular fractional area contraction (20.1 +/- 8.6%). Two-dimensional echocardiography also revealed interventricular septal flattening at both end-systole and end-diastole and markedly decreased left ventricular end-diastolic dimensions. Left ventricular fractional area contraction remained normal. Hemodynamic improvement occurred during the intermediate phase as shown by restoration of cardiac index (3.3 +/- 0.6 liters/min per m2), decrease in right atrial pressure (8.3 +/- 4.8 mm Hg), reduction in right ventricular end-systolic area (9.0 +/- 3.6 cm2/m2 at the intermediate stage and 6.1 +/- 1.8 cm2/m2 at recovery) and end-diastolic area (10.5 +/- 3.6 cm2/m2 at the intermediate stage and 8.9 +/- 2.9 cm2/m2 at recovery) and improvement in right ventricular fractional area contraction (31.5 +/- 16.4%). The interventricular septum progressively returned to a more normal configuration at both end-systole and end-diastole, and left ventricular diastolic dimension steadily increased. It is concluded that circulatory failure secondary to massive pulmonary embolism was mediated through a profound decrease in left ventricular preload, resulting from both pulmonary outflow obstruction and reduced left ventricular diastolic compliance.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Cardiac Output
  • Echocardiography*
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Septum / physiopathology
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism / physiopathology*