Recurrent pulmonary emboli secondary to right atrial thrombus around a permanent pacing catheter: a case report and review of the literature

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1979 Mar;2(2):196-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1979.tb05201.x.


This report describes the management of a woman with multiple pulmonary emboli secondary to a large right atrial clot which had formed around her permanent transvenous pacemaker. She continued to have pulmonary emboli despite adequate anticoagulation. Removal of the catheter and pacing required right atriotomy under cover of cardiopulmonary bypass. Additionally, eight English language case reports of symptomatic pericatheter thromboses are reviewed. In these cases, pericatheter clot resulted either in right-sided inlet obstruction or pulmonary emboli. The mortality rate was 75%. Although the cause for our patent's thromboembolic events is uncertain, congestive heart failure was a predisposing factor in 75% of the other reported cases. We suggest that pacemaker patients in congestive heart failure might benefit greatly from chronic anticoagulation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Female
  • Heart Atria*
  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pacemaker, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism / etiology*
  • Thrombosis / complications
  • Thrombosis / etiology*


  • Anticoagulants