Why does immobilization increase the risk 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

Immobilization leads to local venous stasis by accumulation of clotting factors and fibrin, resulting in blood clot formation. The risk of pulmonary embolism increases with prolonged bed rest or immobilization of a limb in a cast.

In the Prospective Investigation of Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis II (PIOPED II) study, immobilization (usually because of surgery) was the risk factor most commonly found in patients with pulmonary embolism.


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