Semin Respir Crit Care Med 2021; 42(02): 199-211
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1722290
Review Article

Evaluating the Right Ventricle in Acute and Chronic Pulmonary Embolism: Current and Future Considerations

Siddharth Singh
1  Department of Cardiology, Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
Michael I. Lewis
2  Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
› Author Affiliations


The right ventricle (RV), due to its morphologic and physiologic differences, is susceptible to sudden increase in RV afterload, as noted in patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE). Functional impairment of RV function is a stronger presage of adverse outcomes in acute PE than the location or burden of emboli. While current iterations of most clinical prognostic scores do not incorporate RV dysfunction, advancements in imaging have enabled more granular and accurate assessment of RV dysfunction in acute PE. RV enlargement and dysfunction on imaging is noted only in a subset of patients with acute PE and is dependent on underlying cardiopulmonary reserve and clot burden. Specific signs like McConnell's and “60/60” sign are noted in less than 20% of patients with acute PE. About 2% of patients with acute PE develop chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, characterized by continued deterioration in RV function in a subset of patients with a continuum of RV function from preserved to overt right heart failure. Advances in molecular and other imaging will help better characterize RV dysfunction in this population and evaluate the response to therapies.

Publication History

Publication Date:
06 February 2021 (online)

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