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PE in Pregnancy


Click here for the full Investigation and Management of Pulmonary Embolism in Pregnancy Clinical Guideline, RCHT



Updated for Acute GP website 30 June 2014


Incidence       10.6 per 100,000


Symptoms:    Dyspnoea 62%

                        Pleuritic Chest Pain (55%)

                        Cough (24%)

                        Sweating (18%)


Community assessment by GP or Midwife


When a GP suspects PE in pre-pregnancy or the puerperium, clinical assessment needs to be carried out in order to decide whether outpatient investigation and management is appropriate.


If the patient is severely ill, with any of the following, admission is indicated:

  • Altered level of consciousness

  • BP <90 mmHg systolic

  • HR >130/min

  • Sats <91%

  • Temp  <35 degree C

  • RR >25/min



If the patient is normotensive and stable at presentation, then the Acute GP will see the patient for assessment, investigation and management.

The GP may wish to give LMWH if there is likely to be a delay before investigation i.e. at weekends.

See Dosage schedule for LMWH in pregnancy either in BNF or as outlined below.



Assessment of the Pregnant Patient at Acute GP service will include the following:


Review of history and examination



                      Wells Score  (as per non-pregnant PE)

(Not validated in Pregnancy but still being used as part of the assessment)

Clinical assessment for DVT




  • D-dimer should not be used in pregnant patient, if there is a high index of suspicion of PE discuss with the AGP service

  • FBC, U&E, LFTS, Coagulation Profile

  • Troponins

  • CXR

  • CUS (Doppler) if evidence of DVT or Leg symptoms present

  • Q Scan is only recommended if CXR and PEFR Normal, see linked algorithm.

Q scanning can be arranged Monday to Friday provided the request is made before 11:30.

At weekends if an urgent Q scan is required the GP will need to speak to the Consultant radiologist or SPR




The patient should be commenced on anticoagulation on presentation, provided there are no absolute contraindications.


NB Thrombosis and anticoagulation in the month following AstraZeneca Covid vaccination requires special consideration (see VITT section) - this may have relevance as the population receiving doses expands to include those who are pregnant/postpartum


The agents preferred are either Dalteparin or Enoxaparin as per early pregnancy body weight, in a twice-daily schedule. Prefilled syringes should be used. Click here for dosing information.



Management of a Confirmed PE in pregnancy


Arrange for the patient to have twice daily LMWH in the community.

Ensure follow up by GP and referral the Joint Haematology/Obstetric Clinic




Follow up and Onward referral


  • All confirmed cases should be referred to the Joint Haematology /Obstetric Clinic.

  • Treatment should be continued for the duration of pregnancy and

  • For at least 6 weeks postnatally or

  • Until at least 3 months of treatment given in total.

  • Women should be offered a choice of either LMWH or oral anticoagulant for postnatal therapy.

  • Postpartum warfarin should be avoided until at least the third day and for longer in women at risk of bleeding. 






























Diagnostic algorithm for suspected PE in clinically stable pregnant patients


CUS: Bilateral venous compression ultrasound scans.

Q: Perfusion scan





  • Heit JA, Kobbervig CE, James AH, Petterson TM, Bailey KR, Melton LJ III. Trends in the incidence of venous thromboembolism during pregnancy or postpartum:                     a 30-year population-based study. Ann Intern Med 2005;143:697–706.

  • Marik PE, Plante LA. Venous thromboembolic disease and pregnancy. N Engl J Med 2008;359:2025–2033.

  • Gherman RB, Goodwin TM, Leung B, Byrne JD, Hethumumi R, Montoro M. Incidence, clinical characteristics, and timing of objectively diagnosed venous thromboembolism during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 1999;94:730–734.

  • Bourjeily G, Paidas M, Khalil H, Rosene-Montella K, Rodger M. Pulmonary embolism in pregnancy. Lancet 2010;375:500–512.

  • An Official American Thoracic Society/Society of Thoracic Radiology Clinical Practice Guideline-Evaluation of Suspected Pulmonary Embolism in Pregnancy. Am J Respir Crit Care Med.  2011 Nov 15;184(10):1200-8.

  • BTS guideline for emergency oxygen use in adult patients. Thorax 2008;63:              Suppl 6 vi1-vi68.

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