DOI: 10.1161/circ.148.suppl_1.12001 ISSN: 0009-7322

Abstract 12001: To Bleed or Not to Bleed: The Challenging Management of Saddle Pulmonary Embolism in a Patient With Widely Metastatic Breast Cancer

Zeel K Patel, Keneil Shah, Afif Hossain, Arthi Palani, Pallavi Solanki
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Introduction: In patients with high-risk pulmonary embolism (PE), anticoagulation (AC) is the mainstay of treatment before and after systemic thrombolysis and/or catheter-directed therapy. Our case highlights a challenging clinical decision where AC had to be initiated due to hemodynamic instability despite its controversial role in patients with CNS metastases.

Case Description: A 52 years old female with ER+/PR+/HER2- breast cancer with widespread brain & vertebral metastases presented after a syncopal event. She had tachycardia and hypotension necessitating IV fluids and vasopressors. Echocardiogram showed RV dilation with reduced systolic function & septal wall motion concerning for RV pressure overload. CTA of chest showed large saddle PE with extension into bilateral segmental arteries and enlarged RV. Significant labs: Troponin-I 1.64 ng/mL, BNP 186 pg/mL, hemoglobin 8 g/dL, and platelets 54,000/μl. She was initiated on IV heparin but given worsening hemodynamic instability, she underwent catheter-based thrombectomy with improvement in hemodynamics. Serial CT head showed no evidence of intracranial hemorrhage but she developed diffuse alveolar hemorrhage necessitating intubation. Her bleeding eventually resolved, and she was extubated and discharged on DOAC.

Discussion: This patient had high-risk PE given her hemodynamic instability, elevation in cardiac biomarkers, and RV strain on imaging. Treatment includes AC followed by systemic thrombolysis or catheter-directed therapy followed by AC. This patient’s management was complicated due to widespread metastases, thrombocytopenia and anemia. AC was nonetheless initiated due to her hemodynamic instability and patient eventually required thrombectomy.

Conclusion: Brain metastases are an absolute contraindication to systemic thrombolysis, but the role of systemic AC is controversial. Our case highlights the importance of personalized decision-making regarding AC.

More from our Archive