A pulmonary embolism (EM buh liz um) is a blood clot that travels to the blood vessels in the lungs. Blood flow to the lungs can be totally blocked or partially blocked. You may hear
a pulmonary embolism referred to as a “PE.”
Pulmonary embolisms are caused by blood clots that can develop from:
- Staying in one position for a long time.
- Certain illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes.
- Hereditary factors.
Signs and symptoms
Your child may have one or more of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Fast breathing
- Bluish color of the fingers and lips
- Rapid heartbeat
- Slight fever
Certain radiology tests can be done to tell if
your child has a pulmonary embolism. The
tests are not painful. Your child will be awake
during the tests. These tests include
- CT scan (Picture 1)
- Ventilation/Perfusion or “VQ” scan
- Family history of blood clots
- Using estrogen containing birth control pills
- Congenital heart disease
A pulmonary embolism will be diagnosed by a physical examination, medical history and most often a CT scan. Usually a pulmonary embolism will be treated with an anticoagulation medicine (blood thinner) such as:
Precautions for children on anticoagulation therapy
- Your child should not play contact sports while on blood-thinning medicine.
- Your child will need to avoid aspirin products and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) - Naproxen (Aleve)
- Your child will see a Hematology doctor in the outpatient clinic soon after discharge
- More laboratory and radiology tests may be needed.
When to call the doctor
Call your child’s doctor right away if your child has any of the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Bluish color of fingers or lips
- Bleeding or coughing up blood
Call your child’s doctor at _________________ during regular clinic hours for:
- Medicine refills
- Questions or concerns
Be sure to call your child’s doctor’s office at _________________________ if you cannot keep an appointment.
HH-I-418 7/18 I Copyright 2018, Nationwide Children’s Hospital