Pulmonary embolism physical examination
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Pulmonary embolism physical examination On the Web
Pulmonary emboli are associated with the presence of tachycardia and tachypnea. Signs of right ventricular failure include jugular venous distension, a right sided S3, and a parasternal lift. These signs are often present in cases of massive pulmonary emboli.
Appearance of the Patient
The patient may appear anxious due to difficulty breathing. More severe cases may be associated with cyanosis.
- The patient may be febrile
- The pulse is regular.
- The pulse may be bounding and strong.
- The pulses are symmetric.
- Tachypnea may be present.
- Hypoxia may be present, but the hyperventilation associated with pulmonary embolism may actually drive down the PCO2.
- The patient may be hypotensive secondary to circulatory collapse in cases of massive pulmonary embolism. The state of shock may progress to sudden cardiac arrest and or pulseless electrical activity in the absence of immediate management. Approximately 15% of all sudden cardiac arrest cases are attributed to pulmonary emboli.
- Cyanosis may be present in the setting of massive pulmonary embolism.
- Jugular venous distension may be seen in cases of massive pulmonary embolism.
- Parasternal heave secondary to the development of right ventricular failure may be present in massive PE.
- Prominent P2 component of second heart sound may be present due to elevated pulmonary pressures.
- Right sided S3 may be present in cases of a massive pulmonary embolism secondary to the development of right ventricular failure.
- A murmur due to tricuspid regurgitation may be heard on auscultation.
- Reduced breath sounds may be present.
- Rales may be present.
- Pulmonary hypertension and RV overload are commonly seen during the physical exam and diagnosis.
- Limb edema
- Limb erythema
- Limb tenderness
- Palpable cords in the calf or thighs due to thrombosed veins.
Supportive Trial Data
The Prospective Investigation Of Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis II (PIOPED II) study identified the following signs to be present in the majority of patients with a confirmed pulmonary embolism diagnosed by angiography.
- Tachypnea (~54%),
- Signs of deep venous thrombosis (~47%),
- Tachycardia (~24%),
- Rales (~18),
- Reduced breath sounds (~17%),
- Prominent P2 component of second heart sound (~15%),
- Jugular venous pressure (~14%).
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Stein PD, Beemath A, Matta F, Weg JG, Yusen RD, Hales CA, Hull RD, Leeper KV, Sostman HD, Tapson VF, Buckley JD, Gottschalk A, Goodman LR, Wakefied TW, Woodard PK (October 2007). "Clinical characteristics of patients with acute pulmonary embolism: data from PIOPED II". The American Journal of Medicine 120 (10): 871–9. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.03.024. PMID 17904458. Retrieved on 2012-04-29.
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