Survival and Right Ventricular Function After Surgical Management of Acute Pulmonary Embolism

Joshua B. Goldberg, Daniel M. Spevack, Syed Ahsan, Yogita Rochlani, Tanya Dutta, Suguru Ohira, Masashi Kai, David Spielvogel, Steven Lansman, Ramin Malekan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Acute pulmonary embolism (PE) is associated with high morbidity and mortality because of right ventricular (RV) failure. There is evidence suggesting surgical therapy (surgical embolectomy or venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation [ECMO]) is safe and effective. Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of surgical management of acute PE. Methods: Surgical embolectomy and/or venoarterial ECMO were compared, between 2005 and 2019, for massive PE (MPE) versus high-risk submassive PE (SMPE). RV recovery was defined as improvements in central venous pressure, pulmonary artery systolic pressure, RV/left ventricular ratio, and RV fractional area change. Results: One hundred thirty-six patients with PE (92 with SMPE and 44 with MPE) were identified. Patients with MPE more often presented with syncope (59.1% [26 of 44] vs. 25.0% [23 of 92]; p = 0.0003), Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤4 (22.7% [10 of 44] vs. 0% [0 of 92]), and failed thrombolysis (18.2% [8 of 44] vs. 4.3% [3 of 92]; p = 0.008). Pre-operative cardiopulmonary resuscitation occurred in 43.2% of patients with MPE (19 of 44). Most patients with SMPE were treated with embolectomy (98.9% [91 of 92]), while ECMO was used more in those with MPE (ECMO in 40.9% [18 of 44], embolectomy in 59.1% [26 of 44]). RV function improved as measured by central venous pressure (from 23.4 ± 4.9 to 10.5 ± 3.1 mm Hg), pulmonary artery systolic pressure (from 60.6 ± 14.2 to 33.8 ± 10.7 mm Hg), RV/left ventricular ratio (from 1.19 ± 0.33 to 0.87 ± 0.23; p < 0.005), and fractional area change (from 26.8 to 41.0; p < 0.005). Mortality was 4.4% (6 of 136; SMPE, 1.1% [1 of 92]; MPE, 11.6% [5 of 44]). Subgroup analysis showed morbidity and mortality were highly associated with pre-operative cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Conclusions: Surgical management of patients with MPE and high-risk SMPE is safe and highly effective at achieving RV recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-911
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 25 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • CPR
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • outcomes
  • pulmonary embolism
  • right ventricular failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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