July 1986

Pulmonary Embolism in Adolescents

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. Dr Bernstein is now with the Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.

Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(7):667-671. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1986.02140210065028

• To clarify the epidemiology of pulmonary embolism in adolescents, a retrospective analysis of adolescent admissions to a general hospital over a 15-year period was performed. Eighteen patients had 19 episodes of pulmonary embolism, an incidence of 78 per 100 000 hospitalized adolescents. There were twice as many female as male patients. Common complaints were chest pain, dyspnea, cough, and hemoptysis. Common findings were hypoxemia and deep-vein thrombosis. Major risk factors were oral contraceptive use and elective abortion in 75% of female patients and trauma in 67% of male patients. Unlike its effect in adults, pulmonary embolism is rarely fatal in adolescents. Although clinical features in adolescents are similar to those in adults, there is a high incidence of both overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis. The early use of pulmonary arteriography in difficult diagnostic situations is suggested.

(AJDC 1986;140:667-671)