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Concomitant pulmonary embolism and upper limb ischaemia as a first presentation of a patent foramen ovale


A 78-year-old female patient presented to the emergency department with syncope and dyspnoea. The left arm appeared to be cold and radial pulse was not palpable. A CT scan of the chest and left arm with intravenous contrast displayed bilateral central pulmonary embolisms in combination with a left subclavian artery embolism and an atrial septal aneurysm. Transthoracic echocardiography identified a patent foramen ovale with right-to-left shunting confirming the diagnosis of paradoxical embolism. The patient was treated with anticoagulants. In a patient presenting with a combination of a pulmonary embolism and a peripheral arterial embolism, the clinician should consider a right-to-left shunt with paradoxical embolism. In line with this, when diagnosing a peripheral arterial embolism, a central venous origin should be considered. Furthermore, when diagnosing a pulmonary embolism or other forms of venous thromboembolism, the clinician should be aware of signs of a peripheral arterial embolism.

  • cardiovascular medicine
  • venous thromboembolism
  • emergency medicine
  • primary care
  • radiology

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