Cardiovascular collapse during mechanical thrombectomy for acute pulmonary embolism and the role of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in patient rescue

Bright Benfor, Paul Haddad, Kihoon Bohle, Marvin D. Atkins, Alan B. Lumsden, Eric K. Peden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Driven by the ability to avoid thrombolytics and provide a one stop procedure with immediate hemodynamic improvement, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of mechanical thrombectomy (MT) devices for the treatment of intermediate-to-high risk pulmonary embolism (PE). This study investigated the incidence and outcomes of cardiovascular collapse during MT procedures and demonstrates the role of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in salvaging patients.

METHODS: This single-center retrospective review included patients with PE undergoing MT with the FlowTriever device between 2017 and 2022. Patients presenting periprocedural cardiac arrest were identified and their perioperative characteristics and postoperative outcomes were evaluated.

RESULTS: A total of 151 patients with a mean age of 64 ± 14 years who presented with intermediate-to-high risk PE received LBAT procedures during the study period. The simplified PE severity score was ≥1 in 83% of cases and the average RV/LV ratio was 1.6 ± 0.5, with and elevated troponin in 84%. Technical success was achieved in 98.7% and a significant decrease in pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) was observed (37 mm Hg vs 56 mm Hg; P < .0001). Intraoperative cardiac arrest occurred in nine patients (6%). These patients were more likely to present PASP of ≥70 mm Hg (84% vs 14%; P < .001), were more hypotensive upon admission (systolic of 94 ± 14 mm Hg vs 119 ± 23 mm Hg; P = .004), presented lower oxygen saturation levels (87 ± 6% vs 92 ± 6%; P = .023) and were more likely to present with a history of recent surgery (67% vs 18%; P = .004). Four patients were rescued successfully with ECMO and their residual PE was subsequently removed before discharge by surgical embolectomy in two of the four cases and repeat MT in the other two. All five patients (3%) who did not receive ECMO support expired intraoperatively. The overall 30-day mortality was 8% with no death occurring in patients who were salvaged with ECMO.

CONCLUSIONS: Large-bore aspiration thrombectomy for acute PE is associated with favorable technical outcomes, but the concern for acute cardiac decompensation is non-negligible in patients presenting with high-risk features and a PASP of ≥70 mm Hg. ECMO can help to salvage some of these patients and should be considered in the treatment algorithms of patients deemed at high risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)978-985.e3
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number5
Early online dateApr 6 2023
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Acute pulmonary embolism
  • Catheter-directed therapy
  • ECMO
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Large-bore aspiration thrombectomy
  • Mechanical thrombectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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