Purpose: To provide insight into the current use and results of ultrasound-facilitated catheter-directed thrombolysis (USAT) in patients with high-risk pulmonary embolism (PE).
Introduction: Systemic thrombolysis is an effective treatment for hemodynamically unstable, high-risk PE, but is associated with bleeding complications. USAT is thought to reduce bleeding and is therefore advocated in patients with high-risk PE and contraindications for systemic thrombolysis.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all patients who underwent USAT for high-risk PE in the Netherlands from 2010 to 2017. Characteristics and outcomes were analyzed. Primary outcomes were major (including intracranial and fatal) bleeding and all-cause mortality after 1 month. Secondary outcomes were all-cause mortality and recurrent venous thromboembolism within 3 months.
Results: 33 patients underwent USAT for high-risk PE. Major bleeding occurred in 12 patients (36%, 95% CI 22-53), including 1 intracranial and 3 fatal bleeding. All-cause mortality after 1 month was 48% (16/33, 95% CI 31-66). All-cause mortality after 3 months was 50% (16/32, 95% CI 34-66), recurrent venous thromboembolism occurred in 1 patient (1/32, 3%, 95% CI 1-16).
Conclusions: This study was the first to describe characteristics and outcomes after USAT in a study population of patients with high-risk PE only, an understudied population. Although USAT is considered a relatively safe treatment option, our results illustrate that at least caution is needed in critically ill patients with high-risk PE. Further research in patients with high-risk PE is warranted to guide patient selection.
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