Surgical pulmonary embolectomy and catheter-directed thrombolysis for treatment of submassive pulmonary embolism

Ahmed A. Kolkailah, Sameer Hirji, Gregory Piazza, Julius I. Ejiofor, Fernando Ramirez Del Val, Jiyae Lee, Siobhan McGurk, Sary F. Aranki, Prem S. Shekar, Tsuyoshi Kaneko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Acute pulmonary embolism (PE) with preserved hemodynamics but right ventricular dysfunction, classified as submassive PE, carries a high risk of mortality. We report the results for patients who did not qualify for medical therapy and required treatment of submassive PE with surgical pulmonary embolectomy and catheter-directed thrombolysis (CDT). Methods: Between October 1999 and May 2015, 133 submassive PE patients underwent treatment with pulmonary embolectomy (71) and CDT (62). A multidisciplinary PE response team helped to determine the most appropriate treatment strategy on a case-by-case basis. The EkoSonic ultrasound-facilitated thrombolysis system (EKOS) was used for CDT, which was introduced in 2010. Results: The mean age of submassive PE patients was 57.3 years, which included 36.8% females. PE risk factors included previous deep venous thrombosis (46.6%), immobility (36.1%), recent surgery (30.8%), and cancer (22.6%), P < 0.05. The most common indication for advanced treatment was right ventricular strain (42.9%), P = 0.03. The frequency of surgical pulmonary embolectomy remained stable even after incorporating the EKOS procedure into our treatment algorithm, with statistically similar operative mortality. Bleeding was observed in six CDT patients and one pulmonary embolectomy patient (P < 0.05). Follow-up echocardiography was available for 61% of the overall cohort, of whom 76.5% had no residual moderate or severe right ventricular dysfunction. Conclusions: Pulmonary embolectomy and CDT are important contemporary advanced treatment options for selected high-risk patients with submassive PE, who do not qualify for medical therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-259
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cardiac surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • clinical outcomes
  • multidisciplinary heart team
  • pulmonary embolectomy
  • pulmonary embolism
  • resource utilization
  • thrombolysis


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