Septic pulmonary embolism due to periodontal disease


Masaya Takemura, Respiratory Disease Center, the Tazuke Kofukai Medical Research Institute, Kitano Hospital 2-4-20, Ohgimachi, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8480, Japan. Email:


Background and objective:  Septic pulmonary embolism due to periodontal disease (SPE-PD) is rarely reported and little is known about its clinical features. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical and radiological features, as well as outcome, in SPE-PD.

Methods:  Patients' records were retrospectively reviewed and 12 patients with SPE-PD were identified (10 men, mean age 60.5 years). The patients' demographic features, laboratory data, physical and radiological findings, and clinical outcomes were evaluated.

Results:  All but one patient were smokers. Eight of the 12 patients had comorbidities including hypertension (58%) and/or diabetes mellitus (17%). Prevalent symptoms were fever (67%) and chest pain (58%). Only two patients fulfilled the criteria of systemic inflammatory response syndrome; most of the subjects were not clinically severely ill. Blood cultures were negative in all cases. Contrast-enhanced chest computed tomography (CT) showed multiple peripheral nodules in all 12 patients, wedge-shaped peripheral lesions abutting on the pleura in 10 (83%) and a feeding-vessel sign in 9 (75%). All patients recovered from their illness after antimicrobial therapy concomitant with tooth extraction or periodontal care. The median duration of antibiotic administration was 51 days.

Conclusions:  Most patients with SPE-PD were not seriously ill. Contrast-enhanced chest CT appeared to be useful to diagnose SPE-PD.