Pulmonary tumor embolism secondary to soft tissue and bone sarcomas: A case report and literature review

Nicholas Latchana, Vincent C. Daniel, Robert W. Gould, Raphael E. Pollock

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11 Scopus citations


Background: Tumor embolisms (TE) are an underappreciated source of pulmonary embolisms in sarcoma. Most evidence in the literature is limited to case reports and none have described the presence of TE secondary to myxofibrosarcoma. We report the first case of myxofibrosarcoma TE and perform a review of the literature for TE secondary to bone and soft tissue sarcomas (STS). Case presentation: A 36-year-old female presented with debilitating pain of the right upper extremity secondary to a recurrent soft tissue sarcoma. She had distant metastasis to the lung. An MRI revealed a 25-cm shoulder mass involving the proximal arm muscles with encasement of the axillary artery, vein, and brachial plexus. A palliative forequarter amputation was performed and tumor thrombus was evident within the axillary artery and vein. Postoperatively, she developed an acute onset of dyspnea and hypoxia. A computed tomography scan revealed a pulmonary saddle embolism. A bilateral lower extremity venous duplex was negative. She became hemodynamically unstable despite resuscitation and was placed on vasopressor support. A transthoracic echocardiogram revealed elevated pulmonary artery pressure, tricuspid regurgitation, right heart dilation, and reduced right heart systolic function consistent with acute cor pulmonale. The patient did not want to pursue a median sternotomy with pulmonary artery embolectomy and expired from cardiopulmonary arrest within 24 h of the operation. The final pathology revealed a 25 × 16 × 13 cm high-grade myxofibrosarcoma with invasion into the bone, skin, and neurovascular bundle as well as evidence of tumor thrombus. Conclusion: TE is a rare but deadly cause of pulmonary embolism in sarcoma. A high index of suspicion is necessary in individuals who present with respiratory-related symptoms, especially dyspnea. Diagnostic confirmation with a computed tomography scan of the chest and echocardiogram should be rapid. Unlike venous thromboembolism, pulmonary embolectomy remains the preferred therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number168
JournalWorld Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 30 2017

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© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Cor pulmonale
  • Sarcoma
  • Tumor embolism


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