CASE

Concomitant pulmonary embolism and upper limb ischaemia as a first presentation of a patent foramen ovale.

A 78-year-old female patient presented to the emergency department with syncope and dyspnoea. The left arm appeared to be cold and radial pulse was not palpable. A CT scan of the chest and left arm with intravenous contrast displayed bilateral central pulmonary embolisms in combination with a left subclavian artery embolism and an atrial septal aneurysm. Transthoracic echocardiography identified a patent foramen ovale with right-to-left shunting confirming the diagnosis of paradoxical embolism. The patient was treated with anticoagulants. In a patient presenting with a combination of a pulmonary embolism and a peripheral arterial embolism, the clinician should consider a right-to-left shunt with paradoxical embolism. In line with this, when diagnosing a peripheral arterial embolism, a central venous origin should be considered. Furthermore, when diagnosing a pulmonary embolism or other forms of venous thromboembolism, the clinician should be aware of signs of a peripheral arterial embolism.

as reported in: Houtzager T, Berg I, Urlings T, Grauss R. BMJ Case Rep. 2021 Oct:14(10) doi: e242351.