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Pulmonary Embolectomy

Raymond O. Heimbecker, MD, FRCS; Wilfred J. Keon, MD, FRCS; Georgia Elliott, RN
Arch Surg. 1967;95(4):576-584. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1967.01330160046006.
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EMBOLECTOMY for massive pulmonary embolus has been a challenge to the surgeon for many years. In 1908, Trendelenburg proposed the direct removal of thrombi from the pulmonary artery.1 The first successful pulmonary embolectomy was done by Kirschner in 19242 and Steenburg and associates3 reported the first successful pulmonary embolectomy in the United States in 1958. Other notable contributions have been made by Allison,4 Sharp,5 and Sabiston.6 In 1961, Cooley demonstrated the efficacy of temporary cardiopulmonary bypass in the management of massive pulmonary embolism.7

In spite of these advances, however, a large number of patients still die of pulmonary emboli. Phear8 has stated that 50% of people with a massive embolus die in the hospital and of those who survive only two thirds will return to normal lives while the remainder are disabled by cor pulmonale, dyspnea, and rhythm changes. Incorrect diagnosis, the


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