Associazione Nazionale Medici Cardiologi Ospedalieri



Half dose thrombolysis in intermediate – high risk pulmonary embolism with tricuspid valve mobile mass: a bail out strategy

Roccabruna Alessandra Verona(Verona) – Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata di Verona | Giatti Sara Rovigo(Rovigo ) – Ospedale Santa Maria della Misericordia | Pastore Gianni Rovigo(Rovigo) – Ospedale Santa Maria della Misericordia

A 82-year-old previously healthy male was referred to the emergency department complaining sudden onset dyspnea and witnessed syncope complicated by head trauma. Recurrent dizziness occurred previously. No history or drug consumption noted. On admission: heart rate 90 beats/min, blood pressure 110/60 mmHg, respiratory rate 25 breaths/min, oxygen saturation 87% in room air, normal body temperature. No lower extremities tenderness or swelling reported. Consistent with peripheral blood oxygen saturation levels, arterial blood gas analysis showed hypoxemia and respiratory alkalosis. Laboratory exams were significant for thrombocytopenia (89.000 cells/L), elevated cardiac troponin T levels (222 ng/L) and natriuretic peptide (NT pro-BNP 3944 pg/mL). Head CT excluded acute cerebral hemorrhage. At the electrocardiogram, signs of RV strain were present (biphasic T-waves in V1-V3 leads, S1-Q3-T3). Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) showed dilated RV with hypokinetic free wall, “D-shaped” LV, “60/60” sign and a mobile filiform mass crossing the tricuspid valve plan in the right atrium (fig. 1). The patient did not present structural valvular abnormalities or endocarditis-related risk factors. CT pulmonary angiography detected a “saddle” PE and extensive thrombosis in inferior vena cava. After unfractioned heparin (UFH) bolus, the patient was transferred to our intensive care unit and balancing risks and benefits the chosen treatment option consisted in half dose systemic thrombolysis (50 mg rtPA in 60”; 10 mg as loading dose in 2′). Because of potential harmful effects in thrombocytopenia and recent head trauma, UFH was temporarily withheld and started again after 1 hour. The day after, a beside TTE showed complete tricuspid thrombus resolution, a significant decrease in RV/LV ratio and systolic pulmonary artery pressure (fig. 2). Apart from small hematomas, no bleedings were reported. The patient was shifted to the ward on the next day and following course was uneventful. On day 4 a direct oral anticoagulant (Dabigatran 110 mg) was started. Abdominal and inferior limb-deep-venous ultrasound were both negative for pathological reports. A total body CT was scheduled to exclude silent malignancies at discharge.

Take home message: in intermediate-high risk PE, half dose systemic fibrinolysis strategy is controversial since its potential benefit is counterbalanced by concerns about major bleedings, but increasing data suggest its efficacy with low risk profile.