Pulmonary embolism (PE) is frequently encountered in the emergency department. Syncope, often as a consequence of impending haemodynamic collapse, is associated with increased mortality. While loss of consciousness owing to cerebral hypoperfusion and reduced left ventricular preload is a common cause of collapse with large volume PE, other syndromes can also cause neurological deficit in thromboembolic disease. Here, we describe a case of a woman in her 60s, presenting to the emergency department with features of high-risk PE. During clinical examination, the patient collapsed and became unresponsive with a Glasgow Coma Scale of 4/15 despite normal haemodynamics. Neurological signs were noted and CT revealed evidence of a large territory cerebral infarction. Further cardiovascular investigations identified a grade 4 patent foramen ovale. We describe a challenging case of established venous thromboembolism complicated by paradoxical embolism, highlighting the importance of thorough clinical examination and investigation and discuss the current evidence base of treatments.
- emergency medicine
- pulmonary embolism
- adult intensive care
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Contributors AC was involved in the management of the patient, planned and conceptualised the case report and wrote the initial manuscript. AS was involved in the management of the patient, interpretation of the echocardiogram and assisted in preparation of the manuscript. MR was involved in the management of the patient and assisted in preparation of the manuscript. KH was involved in the management of the patient, interpretation of the computed tomography imaging and assisted in preparation of the manuscript. All authors contributed both to the care of this patient and the writing process of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Case reports provide a valuable learning resource for the scientific community and can indicate areas of interest for future research. They should not be used in isolation to guide treatment choices or public health policy.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.