Saddle pulmonary embolism diagnosed by CT angiography: Frequency, clinical features and outcome

Jay H. Ryu, Patricia A. Pellikka, David A. Froehling, Steve G. Peters, Gregory L. Aughenbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the frequency, clinical presentation and outcome associated with saddle pulmonary embolism (PE) diagnosed by computed tomographic angiography (CTA). Patients: Retrospective review of 546 consecutive patients diagnosed to have acute PE by CTA from 1 September 2002 to 31 December 2003. Results: Fourteen of 546 patients (2.6%) had saddle PE; 10 were men (71%). None of these patients had pre-existing cardiopulmonary disease. Most common presenting symptoms included dyspnea (72%) and syncope (43%). Hypotension was documented in 2 patients (14%). The most common risk factor for PE was obesity (64%). CTA revealed saddle PE and additional filling defects in the main pulmonary arteries in all patients. Echocardiography was performed within 48 h of the PE diagnosis in 10 patients and revealed right ventricular dysfunction in 8 (80%). All patients were initially managed in the hospital, median length of stay of 4 days (range, 1-45 days). Standard anticoagulant therapy with heparin and warfarin was administered to all patients. Five patients (36%) received additional therapy; thrombolytic therapy was administered to 1 patient (7%) and 4 patients (29%) received an inferior vena cava filter. None of the patients died during their hospitalization. Four patients (29%) died following their hospitalization after intervals of 1, 5, 6, and 12 months, respectively. Causes of death were known in 3 patients, all of whom died from progressive malignancy. Conclusion: Saddle PE in patients without pre-existing cardiopulmonary disease is associated with a relatively low in-hospital mortality rate and may not necessitate aggressive medical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1537-1542
Number of pages6
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Computed tomographic angiography
  • Mortality
  • Pulmonary embolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Saddle pulmonary embolism diagnosed by CT angiography: Frequency, clinical features and outcome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this