Background: The clinical diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) can be challenging given its variable presentation, requiring dependence on objective testing. Decision instruments such as PERC and the Wells’ score help stratify patients to low or high probability, enabling focused use of CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) for diagnosis. However, despite these algorithms, there is evidence of increasing use of CTPA along with diminishing diagnostic rate (less than 10%). This combination results in the overdiagnosis of subsegmental PEs, unnecessary exposure to radiation, false positive results and the potential for contrast-induced nephropathy. The YEARS study aims to present a simplified algorithm for evaluation with a two-tiered D-dimer threshold to reduce the numbers of CTPA in all age groups. Read more →
Tag Archive for: Pulmonary Embolism
Background: The simplified PE Severity Index (sPESI) is one of several validated prognostic tools for acute pulmonary embolism (PE). The European Society of Cardiology recommended the use of the sPESI to risk-stratify patients with acute PE into low risk (sPESI=0) and non-low risk (sPESI≥1) in order to guide treatment and disposition (Konstantinides 2014). Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have found that outpatient management of low-risk PE patients with standard therapy is safe, effective, and cost-effective (Aujesky 2011, Zondag 2013, Kahler 2015).
Standard practice in the United States for treatment of acute PE over the last decade has been a parenteral agent (e.g. enoxaparin, fondaparinux) overlapping with a vitamin K antagonist (VKA) (e.g. warfarin). However, a paradigm shift has been brewing over recent years. Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have demonstrated efficacy as initial and long-term treatment of PE compared to standard therapy in various trials (EINSTEIN-PE 2012, RE-COVER 2014, AMPLIFY 2013, Hosukai-VTE 2013). The EINSTEIN-PE study found that rivaroxaban was noninferior to enoxaparin/VKA for the treatment of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) without increased risk of bleeding. Rivaroxaban and other DOACs are approved for treatment of VTE in the European Union, but use in the United States of DOACs for ED treatment of PE is more limited. Read more →
The PERC rule has been a welcome addition to the emergency department evaluation of patients with chest pain or dyspnea suspected of pulmonary embolism. This has allowed a reduction in D-dimer testing in low risk patients. The traditional saturation cut-off of 95% can pose a challenge for patients seen at higher elevations where mild hypoxemia can be a normal physiologic parameter. At these elevations patients can flunk the PERC rule due to borderline hypoxemia with oxygen saturation levels in the 93-94% range, despite all other PERC rule criteria being negative. This can result in D-dimer testing and the associated risk of unnecessary CT radiation exposure in the event of a false positive D-dimer.
Background: In patients with symptoms of pulmonary embolism (PE), we often turn to vital signs, including heart rate, respiratory rate and pulse oximetry, as part of our initial impression of the patient. Before even considering further testing, such as d-dimer or CTPA, we look first at the vital signs to form our gestalt impression of the patient. Clinical decision making tools are utilized in one static point in time, but gestalt decision-making occurs over the course of the patient’s entire stay in the Emergency Department (ED). Because of this, clinicians may use changes in vital signs to augment their differential diagnosis or to justify their belief that a PE work up is not necessary.
Background: Anyone who has run a code, knows that pulseless electrical activity (PEA) during cardiac arrest has a worse prognosis compared to patients with shockable rhythms. In patients with suspected massive PE as the cause of their cardiac arrest the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines do recommend consideration of thrombolytics. There is however, no uniform consensus on the type, dose, duration, timing, or method of administration. The current study (PEAPETT Trial) was an attempt to do exactly that. Read more →