Residual pulmonary embolism as a predictor for recurrence after a first unprovoked episode: Results from the REVERSE cohort study
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BACKGROUND: The optimal duration of oral anticoagulant therapy after a first, unprovoked venous thromboembolism is controversial due to tightly balanced risks and benefits of indefinite anticoagulation. Risk stratification tools may assist in decision making. OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine the relationship between residual pulmonary embolism assessed by baseline ventilation-perfusion scan after completion of 5-7months of oral anticoagulant therapy and the risk of recurrent venous thromboembolism in patients with the first episode of unprovoked pulmonary embolism. METHODS: We conducted a multicentre prospective cohort study of participants with a first, unprovoked venous thromboembolism enrolled after the completion of 5-7months of oral anticoagulation therapy. The participants completed a mean 18-month follow-up. Participants with pulmonary embolism had baseline ventilation-perfusion scan before discontinuation of oral anticoagulant therapy and the percentage of vascular obstruction on baseline ventilation-perfusion scan was determined. During follow-up after discontinuation of oral anticoagulant therapy, all episodes of suspected recurrent venous thromboembolism were independently adjudicated with reference to baseline imaging. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: During follow-up, 24 of 239 (10.0%) participants with an index event of isolated pulmonary embolism or pulmonary embolism associated with deep vein thrombosis and central assessment of percentage of vascular obstruction on baseline ventilation-perfusion scan had confirmed recurrent venous thromboembolism. As compared to participants with no residual pulmonary embolism on baseline ventilation-perfusion scan, the hazard ratio for recurrent venous thromboembolism was 2.0 (95% CI 0.5-7.3) for participants with percentage of vascular obstruction of 0.1%-4.9%, 2.1 (95% CI 0.5-7.8) for participants with percentage vascular obstruction of 5.0%-9.9% and 5.3 (95% CI 1.8-15.4) for participants with percentage vascular obstruction greater than or equal to 10%. CONCLUSIONS: Residual pulmonary embolism assessed by pulmonary vascular obstruction on baseline ventilation-perfusion performed after 5-7months of oral anticoagulant therapy for the first episode of unprovoked pulmonary embolism was associated with a statistically significant higher risk of subsequent recurrent venous thromboembolism. Percentage of pulmonary vascular obstruction assessment by ventilation-perfusion scans maybe a useful tool to help guide the duration of oral anticoagulant therapy after a first unprovoked pulmonary embolism. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00261014.
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