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Date Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Date Updated: Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Study Shows: Surgical Management of Patients is Safe and Highly Effective for a Leading Cause of Cardiovascular Death

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VALHALLA, NY (November 11, 2020) – Surgical management of patients with pulmonary embolisms – the third leading cause of cardiovascular death* - is safe and effective at saving lives, according to a study led by surgeons at Westchester Medical Center and recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that is the result of a blood clot breaking loose and traveling through the bloodstream before becoming lodged-in the lungs. Pulmonary embolisms can occur in a wide variety of patients – from the young with no medical problems to the elderly with multiple chronic medical conditions and can cause sudden and fatal heart failure.

Joshua Goldberg, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), led the study Survival and Right Ventricular Function After Surgical Management of Acute Pulmonary Embolism, which concluded surgical interventions such as an embolectomy and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) are "highly effective at saving lives" when used to treat massive and sub-massive pulmonary embolisms. More than 130 patients with pulmonary embolisms were identified for the study.

"Excellent Outcomes" in Treating Pulmonary Embolisms

The study states traditional care guidelines for pulmonary embolisms recommend systemic thrombolytic therapies, which use medicines to help destroy blood clots.  However, these therapies, have a high risk of stroke and bleeding, among other complications.  The study reports "excellent outcomes" after embolectomy and ECMO with a low rates of post-operative complications.  These outcomes are far better than those reported using other treatment strategies and should be a "primary consideration" for patients with massive and sub-massive pulmonary embolisms.

"Our study results add to the growing body of evidence showing that these surgeries are a safe and effective means of treating pulmonary embolisms, said Goldberg. "WMCHealth Physicians Cardiac Surgeons are now applying these methods, as appropriate, for patient care. We encourage other cardiac surgeons to follow suit and hope association and society guidelines will begin to recommend these procedures as treatment options." 

The study was a single-center series led by Goldberg that included contributions from the following Westchester Medical Center physicians: Daniel M. Spevack, MD; Syed Ahsan, MD; Yogita Rochlani, MD; Tanya Dutta, MD; Suguru Ohira, MD; Masashi Kai, MD; David Spielvogel, MD; Steven Lansman, MD, PHD and Ramin Malekan, MD.

WMCHealth's Heart and Vascular Institute

For more than 15 years, patients have turned to the cardiothoracic surgeons at WMCHealth's Heart and Vascular Institute for the region's most advanced cardiac care. Our board-certified surgeons are leaders in their profession, as they frequently present their research and surgical techniques throughout the world, as well as leaders of international professional organizations that focus on cardiac surgery patient care, safety and quality.   

Physicians following a patient with pulmonary embolism or those seeking a second opinion should call 914.493.8793. For more information about the cardiothoracic services at Westchester Medical Center, visit


Press representatives interested in an interview with Dr. Goldberg regarding the study or with another WMCHealth cardiothoracic expert can contact us at any time. B-roll and photographs are also available upon request.

* Office of the Surgeon General (US); National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (US). The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2008. PMID: 20669525.