Sci Rep. 2023 May 3;13(1):7169. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-34348-9.
Current guidelines recommend anticoagulation (AC) for low and intermediate-risk pulmonary embolism (PE) and systemic thrombolysis (tPA) for high risk (massive) PE. How these treatment options compare with other modalities of treatment such as catheter directed thrombolysis (CDT), ultrasound assisted catheter thrombolysis (USAT), and administering lower dose of thrombolytics (LDT) is unclear. There is no study that has compared all these treatment options. We conducted a systematic review and Bayesian network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials in patients with submassive (intermediate risk) PE. Fourteen randomized controlled trials were included, comprising 2132 patients. On Bayesian network meta-analysis, a significant decrease in mortality was noted in tPA versus AC. There was no significant difference between USAT versus CDT. For risk of major bleeding, there was no significant difference in relative risk of major bleeding between tPA versus AC and USAT versus CDT. tPA was found to have a significantly higher risk of minor bleeding and a lower risk of recurrent PE compared to AC. Systemic thrombolysis is associated with a significant reduction in mortality and recurrent PE compared to anticoagulation but an increased risk of minor bleeding. There was no difference in risk of major bleeding. Our study also shows that while the newer modalities of treatment for pulmonary embolism are promising, there is lack of data to comment on the purported advantages.