What are respiratory consequences of pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Acute respiratory consequences of PE include the following:

  • Increased alveolar dead space

  • Hypoxemia

  • Hyperventilation

Additional consequences that may occur include regional loss of surfactant and pulmonary infarction (see the image below). Arterial hypoxemia is a frequent, but not universal, finding in patients with acute embolism. The mechanisms of hypoxemia include ventilation-perfusion mismatch, intrapulmonary shunts, reduced cardiac output, and intracardiac shunt via a patent foramen ovale. Pulmonary infarction is an uncommon consequence because of the bronchial arterial collateral circulation.

Lung infarction secondary to pulmonary embolism oc Lung infarction secondary to pulmonary embolism occurs rarely.
A segmental ventilation perfusion mismatch is evid A segmental ventilation perfusion mismatch is evident in a left anterior oblique projection.

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