Document Type



Pulmonary and Critical Care


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the clinical characteristics, risk factors, management and outcome of major pulmonary embolism (PE) in a tertiary care center of Karachi.

METHODS: Medical records of all patients who underwent a spiral CT scan of the chest for suspected pulmonary embolism were reviewed between January 2000 and June 2007 at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi. Patients having evidence of major pulmonary embolism on spiral CT scan were selected.

RESULTS: A total of 30 patients (10 males, 20 females) with mean age 52 +/- 14.59 years were identified who fulfilled our predefined criteria for major pulmonary embolism. Risk factors for thromboembolism were identified in 22 (73%) patients, prolonged immobilization in 8 (27%) and recent surgery in 8 (27%) patients being the commonest. All patients were symptomatic on presentation. Tachypnea and tachycardia were present in 27 (90%) patients. Refractory hypoxia was present in 18 (60%) patients and 3 (10%) were hypotensive on presentation. On spiral CT scan, 8 (27%) patients had embolus in the main pulmonary trunk, 26 (87%) patients in main right pulmonary artery and 20 (67%) patients had left main pulmonary artery embolus. Echocardiography was done in 22 (73%) patients with the findings of right ventricular dysfunction in all of them. All patients except one were treated with anticoagulation with either heparin infusion or low molecular weight heparin. In addition, thrombolytics were given in 7 (23%) patients and five (17%) underwent surgical embolectomy. Four (13%) patients died during hospitalization with a total of 26 (87%) surviving till hospital discharge.

CONCLUSION: Major pulmonary embolism is an uncommon but potentially life threatening entity. Early diagnosis and aggressive therapy improves the clinical outcome.


Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association