Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 34–41 | Cite as

Right ventricular dysfunction is superior and sufficient for risk stratification by a pulmonary embolism response team

  • Yu Lin ChenEmail author
  • Colin Wright
  • Anthony P. Pietropaoli
  • Ayman Elbadawi
  • Joseph Delehanty
  • Bryan Barrus
  • Igor Gosev
  • David Trawick
  • Dhwani Patel
  • Scott J. Cameron


Several risk stratification tools are available to predict short-term mortality in patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE). The presence of right ventricular (RV) dysfunction is an independent predictor of mortality and may be a more efficient way to stratify risk for patients assessed by a Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT). We evaluated 571 patients presenting with acute PE, then stratified them by the pulmonary embolism severity index (PESI), by the BOVA score, or categorically as low risk (no RV dysfunction by imaging), intermediate risk/submassive (RV dysfunction by imaging), or high risk/massive PE (RV dysfunction with sustained hypotension). Using imaging data to firstly define the presence of RV strain, and plasma cardiac biomarkers as additional evidence for myocardial dysfunction, we evaluated whether PESI, BOVA, or RV strain by imaging were more appropriate for determining patient risk by a PERT where rapid decision making is important. Cardiac biomarkers poorly distinguished between PESI classes and BOVA stages in patients with acute PE. Cardiac TnT and NT-proBNP easily distinguished low risk from submassive PE with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.84 (95% CI 0.73–0.95, p < 0.0001), and 0.88 (95% CI 0.79–0.97, p < 0.0001), respectively. Cardiac TnT and NT-proBNP easily distinguished low risk from massive PE with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.89 (95% CI 0.78–1.00, p < 0.0001), and 0.89 (95% CI 0.82–0.95, p < 0.0001), respectively. In patients with RV dysfunction, the predicted short-term mortality by PESI score or BOVA stage was lower than the observed mortality by a two-fold order of magnitude. The presence of RV dysfunction alone in the context of acute PE is sufficient for the purposes of risk stratification. More complicated risk stratification tools which require the consideration of multiple clinical variables may under-estimate short-term mortality risk.


Pulmonary embolism (PE) Right ventricle (RV) Biomarker Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) Pulmonary Embolism Severity Index (PESI) BOVA score 


Author contributions

Study concept, design, and development (YC, CW, AE, JD, AP, DP, DT, IG, BB, and SC), data acquisition (YC, AE, CW, DP, and SC), statistical analysis and interpretation (YC and SC), drafting of the manuscript (YC and SC).


The following financial funding agencies provided financial support: National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants NIH 3K08HL128856, and HL12020 to Dr. Cameron

Supplementary material

11239_2019_1922_MOESM1_ESM.tiff (1.5 mb)
Supplementary Figure 1 Clinical variables determining PESI Class (TIFF 1522 kb)
11239_2019_1922_MOESM2_ESM.tiff (1.5 mb)
Supplementary Figure 2 Clinical variables determining BOVA Group (TIFF 1522 kb)
11239_2019_1922_MOESM3_ESM.tiff (1.5 mb)
Supplementary Figure 3 Radiographic determinants of RV dysfunction (TIFF 1522 kb)
11239_2019_1922_MOESM4_ESM.tiff (1.5 mb)
Supplementary Figure 4 Inclusion criteria for patients screened by ICD-9 Code and stratification according to category, PESI Class, or Bova Stage (TIFF 1522 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Lin Chen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Colin Wright
    • 1
    • 3
  • Anthony P. Pietropaoli
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ayman Elbadawi
    • 1
    • 5
  • Joseph Delehanty
    • 3
  • Bryan Barrus
    • 6
  • Igor Gosev
    • 6
  • David Trawick
    • 1
    • 4
  • Dhwani Patel
    • 2
  • Scott J. Cameron
    • 1
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of General MedicineUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of CardiologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Pulmonary Medicine and Critical CareUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  5. 5.Department of Cardiovascular MedicineUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Surgery, Cardiac SurgeryUniversity of RochesterRochsterUSA

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