Find out the interesting answer to the question: Can a pulmonary embolism form in the absence of a DVT?
“By definition a PE is an ‘embolus’ that has traveled to the lungs,” says Seyed-Mojtaba Gashti, MD, a board certified vascular surgeon with Broward Health Medical Center in Florida.
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 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.