UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Vascular

Title: Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism

Keywords: Pulmonary Embolism (PubMed Search)

Posted: 3/25/2008 by Rob Rogers, MD (Updated: 2/18/2020)
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Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism

Treatment of acute PE:

  • Unfractionated Heparin (80 units/kg intravenous bolus followed by 18 units/kg/hour) or,
  • Fractionated (i.e. low molecular weight heparin) Heparin. For example, Enoxaparin, in a dose of 1 mg/kg subcutaneously every 12 hours. Some also give this dose IV every 12 hours.

If administering thrombolytic therapy (currently tPA is the only FDA approved drug) for massive PE, most authorities recommend UFH (Unfractionated Heparin) because the infusion needs to be turned off while the tPA hangs for 2 hours.

Although other agents are being promoted for the treatment of acute PE, like direct thrombin inhibitors, many institutions do not have these drugs available yet. Plus, they are expensive and have not been shown to be superior to standard therapy (at least yet)

References: Kline, Journal of Thrombosis and Hemostasis, 2005, 2006, 2007