Background Right ventricle dysfunction (RVD) at echocardiography predicts mortality in patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE), but heterogeneous definitions of RVD have been used. We performed a meta-analysis to assess the role of different definitions of RVD and of individual parameters of RVD as predictors of death. Methods A systematic search for studies including patients with confirmed PE reporting on right ventricle (RV) assessment at echocardiography and death in the acute phase was performed. The primary study outcome was death in-hospital or at 30 days. Results RVD at echocardiography, regardless of its definition, was associated with increased risk of death (risk ratio 1.49, 95% CI 1.24–1.79, I2=64%) and PE-related death (risk ratio 3.77, 95% CI 1.61–8.80, I2=0%) in all-comers with PE, and with death in haemodynamically stable patients (risk ratio 1.52, 95% CI 1.15–2.00, I2=73%). The association with death was confirmed for RVD defined as the presence of at least one criterion or at least two criteria for RV overload. In all-comers with PE, increased RV/left ventricle (LV) ratio (risk ratio 1.61, 95% CI 1.90–2.39) and abnormal tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE) (risk ratio 2.29 CI 1.45–3.59) but not increased RV diameter were associated with death; in haemodynamically stable patients, neither RV/LV ratio (risk ratio 1.11, 95% CI 0.91–1.35) nor TAPSE (risk ratio 2.29, 95% CI 0.97–5.44) were significantly associated with death. Conclusion Echocardiography showing RVD is a useful tool for risk stratification in all-comers with acute PE and in haemodynamically stable patients. The prognostic value of individual parameters of RVD in haemodynamically stable patients remains controversial.
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