Post-Pulmonary Embolism Impairment Six Months after Acute Pulmonary Embolism: A Prospective Registry

Vasc Endovascular Surg. 2023 Oct;57(7):665-672. doi: 10.1177/15385744231165152. Epub 2023 Mar 22.


Background: Little evidence is available on post-pulmonary embolism impairment (PPEI), a recently defined complication of pulmonary embolism (PE) encompassing dysfunctional clinical and imaging parameters. In the present study, we sought to evaluate its frequency with a focus on the main components.

Methods: In this prospective registry, we included patients with a confirmed diagnosis of acute PE and focused on those with initial right ventricular (RV) dysfunction. Their baseline, pre-discharge, and 6 month follow-up clinical and imaging characteristics were recorded. The main study outcomes were incomplete RV functional recovery, exercise capacity limitations (based on the 6 minute walk test), and their combination, which defines PPEI, within six months of acute PE.

Results: Of 170 consecutive patients with a confirmed diagnosis of acute PE, 123 accepted to participate in the follow-up study, of whom 87 had initial RV dysfunction. The 6 month rates of incomplete RV functional recovery, signs of an intermediate-to-high echocardiographic probability of PH, and exercise limitations were observed in 58.6, 32.1, and 45.9%, respectively. A total of 22 (25.2%; 95% CI 15.5-34.4%) patients had PPEI. The RV/LV ratio and the fractional area change on discharge after acute PE were more often impaired among patients with incomplete RV recovery, exercise limitations, and a high probability of PH at 6 months. In contrast, an initial impaired RV diastolic function indices appeared to characterize patients with a limited exercise capacity at 6 months.

Discussion: PPEI affects one fourth of patients surviving acute PE with half of them presenting with RV dysfunction or exercise limitations.

Keywords: post-pulmonary embolism impairment; pulmonary embolism; right ventricle dysfunction; venous thromboembolism.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / diagnostic imaging
  • Registries
  • Treatment Outcome