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Special Feature |

Catheter Embolectomy for Acute Pulmonary Embolism*

Nils Kucher, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Cardiovascular Division, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Correspondence to: Nils Kucher, MD, Cardiovascular Division, University Hospital Zurich, Raemistrasse 100, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland; e-mail: nils.kucher@usz.ch



Chest. 2007;132(2):657-663. doi:10.1378/chest.07-0665
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Massive pulmonary embolism (PE) is a life-threatening condition with a high early mortality rate due to acute right ventricular failure and cardiogenic shock. As soon as the diagnosis is suspected, an IV bolus of unfractionated heparin should be administered. In addition to anticoagulation, rapid initiation of systemic thrombolysis is potentially life-saving and therefore is standard therapy. Many patients with massive PE cannot receive thrombolysis because of an increased bleeding risk, such as prior surgery, trauma, or cancer. In these patients, catheter or surgical embolectomy are helpful for rapidly reversing right ventricular failure. Catheter thrombectomy appears to be particularly useful if surgical embolectomy is not available or the patient has contraindications to surgery. Although no controlled clinical trials are available, data from cohort studies indicate that the clinical outcomes after surgical and catheter embolectomy may be comparable.

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