Pulmonary Embolism

What is it?  
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a blood clot that starts in a vein. It is the third leading vascular diagnosis after heart attack and stroke, affecting about 300,000–600,000 Americans each year. There are two types:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg, but sometimes in the arm or other veins.
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE) is caused by a clot that commonly forms in the veins of patient's leg and less commonly in the arms.  It then travels through the heart and into the lungs, where it can block off blood supply to part of the lung or the entire lung.  The the clot blocks off blood supply of both lungs, its called a saddle PE which are often catastrophic.

What is the cause?

The most common triggers for DVT and PE are surgery, cancer, immobilization, hospitalization, genetic disorders, and autoimmune disorders such as lupus.  In women, use of hormones like oral contraceptive or estrogen may increase the risk of clot formation.  

VTE is most common in adults 60 and older, but they can occur at any age. VTE is rare in children.



Before:  no blood flow to the pt's right lung.

Before:  no blood flow to the pt's right lung.

PE Case #1 (Before)

The above case is a young lady who came to the Emergency Room with shortness of breath.  The CT scan showed a large clot blocking the blood flow to the right lung.  The angiogram (above) shows no blood flow to the patient's right lung.  We placed EKOS catheter to help dissolve the clot.

After: normal blood flow to pt's both lungs.

After: normal blood flow to pt's both lungs.

PE Case #1 (After)

After overnight treatment, her symptoms improved.  A repeat angiogram done the next day showed normal flow in both lungs.