Find out the interesting answer to the question: Can a pulmonary embolism form in the absence of a DVT?

For this article I consulted with Seyed-Mojtaba Gashti, MD, a board certified vascular surgeon with Broward Health Medical Center in Florida.

Dr. Gashti explains, “By definition a PE is an ‘embolus’ that has traveled to the lungs. An embolus is a thrombus (blood clot) that is dislodged from one place and ends up in another.

“It can be both venous and arterial. Of course a pulmonary embolus must have a venous source.”

In other words, in order for a blood clot to end up in a pulmonary artery, it has to travel there somehow, and the only way is via veins (venous pertains to veins).

“I assume that one can form a thrombus de novo originating from] in a pulmonary artery, but that would not be considered a PE.”

Remember, embolus refers to a blood clot that has dislodged. So if the clot originates in the lungs, it’s not a “pulmonary embolus.”

“Not infrequently a patient has a pulmonary embolus, but a source cannot be found,” continues Dr. Gashti.

“In these cases the possibilities include: thrombus completely broke off from the original vein and therefore none can be found now; thrombus was in a vein in the upper extremity which normally is not studied in a patient with a PE unless clinically indicated, or that it came directly from the right heart (after open heart surgery), after having a heart attack, or from a tumor, i.e., myxoma.”

Dr. Gashti specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease including abdominal and aortic aneurysm.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and personal/cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.