Pulmonary embolism. Coloured frontal X-ray of the chest of a patient with a pulmonary embolism of the left lung. This occurs when one of the pulmonary arteries is blocked, usually by an abnormal blood clot (thrombus). Lung damage and effusion of pleural fluid occurs (orange region at lower right). Pulmonary embolism can be swiftly fatal, as the blood becomes starved of oxygen. Smaller emboli may cause symptoms including shortness of breath, dizziness and chest pain. Thrombolytic drugs can be used to help break up a thrombus, and anticoagulant drugs can help prevent the formation of others. If a thrombus is large, it may have to be removed surgically.
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