The effect of intravenous recombinant human tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) on arterial blood gases was compared with the effect of heparin treatment in acute pulmonary thromboembolism. Fifteen patients received heparin alone (group A), 5 cases were treated with 7.7 × 106I.U. of tPA (group B) and 10 cases with 15 × 106I.U. of tPA (group C) combined with heparin treatment. Arterial oxygen tension before treatment was not significantly different among the three groups. PaO2 was dramatically improved on the 1st day in group C. By the 7th day, PaO2 of group B had improved to the level of group C. However, the PaO2 of group A on the 7th day was not significantly different compared to the pre-treatment value. In group C, post-treatment perfusion lung scintigrams were improved compared to the pre-treatment images, but this was not the case in group B. Treatment with tPA is more effective for acute pulmonary thromboembolism than heparin alone and a high dose of tPA (15 × 106I.U.) leads to rapid improvement in arterial blood gases and lung perfusion images.
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