Systemic thrombolysis with newer thrombolytics vs anticoagulation in acute intermediate risk pulmonary embolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2023 Sep 29;23(1):482. doi: 10.1186/s12872-023-03528-w.

Abstract

Background: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing systemic thrombolysis to anticoagulation in intermediate risk pulmonary embolism (PE) have yielded mixed results. A prior meta-analysis on this topic had included studies that used lower than standard dose of thrombolytics and included thrombolytic agents that are no longer available. Hence, interpreting the findings of that paper is not valid in contemporary practice.

Objectives: We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of systemic thrombolysis with newer thrombolytic agents vs anticoagulation in intermediate risk PE.

Methods: This systematic review and meta-analysis is reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement.

Results: Nine randomized controlled trials were included in the study. We did not find any difference in in-hospital mortality (RR: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.42-1.50; I2: 0) or risk of major bleeding (RR:2.08;95% CI: 0.98-4.42; I2: 23.9%) between systemic thrombolysis and anticoagulation. Systemic thrombolysis was associated with lower risks for vasopressor use (RR: 0.27; 95% CI: 0.11-0.64, I2: 0) and secondary/rescue thrombolysis (RR: 0.25; 95% CI: 0.14-0.45; I2: 0). But systemic thrombolysis was found to have an increased risk of intracranial hemorrhage (RR: 4.55; 95% CI: 1.30-15.91; I2:0). There was no difference in mechanical ventilation between the two groups (RR: 0.61; 95% CI: 0.31-1.19, I2:0).

Conclusion: In our meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of systemic thrombolysis vs anticoagulation in intermediate risk PE, we did not find any difference in in-hospital mortality or overall risk of major bleeding. With systemic thrombolysis, we found lower risks for vasopressor use and need for secondary/ rescue thrombolysis and an increased risk of intracranial hemorrhage.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; Intermediate risk PE; Meta-analysis; Systemic thrombolysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / chemically induced
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / etiology
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / adverse effects
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Anticoagulants