What is the pathophysiology of pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Aug 04, 2021
  • Author: Wanda L Rivera-Bou, MD, FAAEM, FACEP; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Pulmonary emboli often arise from thrombi originating in the deep venous system of the lower extremities or pelvis. A blood clot dislodges and is swept into the pulmonary circulation and lodges in a pulmonary artery. If the clot is large enough to obstruct large vessels in the lung, it can cause hemodynamic instability, along with right ventricular (RV) failure and possibly death. Currently, thrombolytic therapy for PE is still controversial.

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