How common is pulmonary embolism (PE) in children?

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

DVT and pulmonary embolism are rare in pediatric practice. In 1993, David et al identified 308 children reported in the medical literature from 1975-1993 with DVT of an extremity and/or pulmonary embolism. [16] In 1986, Bernstein reported 78 episodes of pulmonary embolism per 100,000 hospitalized adolescents. [31] Unselected autopsy studies in children estimate the incidence of pulmonary embolism from 0.05-3.7%.

However, among pediatric patients in whom DVT or pulmonary emboli do occur, these conditions are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Various authors suggest that pulmonary embolism contributes to the death of affected children in approximately 30% of cases. [32] (Others, however, have reported pulmonary embolism as a cause of death in fewer than 5% of affected children. [33] )


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