Surgical pathology of pulmonary thromboendarterectomy: a study of 54 cases from 1990 to 2001

Hum Pathol. 2003 Dec;34(12):1290-8. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2003.07.003.


Thromboendarterectomy is performed to treat chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension with obstruction of main, lobar, or segmental pulmonary arteries. The present study evaluated surgical specimens removed between 1990 and 2001. Medical histories and microscopic slides were reviewed in each case. Study slides were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and Verhoeff-van Gieson and evaluated for thrombus, collagen, elastin, atherosclerosis, hemosiderin, calcification, and inflammation. The study group comprised 54 patients (30 women and 24 men), ranging in age from 33 to 77 years (mean, 58 years). Clinically, 28 (52%) had a history of deep leg vein thrombosis and 42 (78%) had a history of pulmonary embolism; 24 (44%) had both events. Coagulation abnormalities were documented in 15 (28%); autoimmune or hematologic disorders, in 8 (15%). Pulmonary thromboendarterectomy was bilateral in 52 patients (96%) and right-sided in 2. Six patients also had obstructions resected from the main pulmonary arteries. Obstruction limited to segmental arteries occurred only in women. Grossly, right-sided specimens were larger than left-sided ones (P = 0.003). Microscopically, ages of thrombi were uniform in 72% and variable in 28%. Intima was thickened in all patients and consisted of collagen (100%), elastin (67%), hemosiderin (56%), inflammation (53%), atherosclerosis (32%), and calcification (15%). We determined that pulmonary thromboendarterectomy was performed most often in middle-aged and elderly patients with a history of deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Less than 50% of the patients had an identifiable coagulation, autoimmune, or hematologic abnormality. Most patients had bilateral disease and resections. Right-sided specimens were significantly larger than left-sided specimens, and lower lobe involvement was more common than involvement elsewhere. Resected tissues most commonly exhibited old organized thrombus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Endarterectomy*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hematologic Diseases / complications
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Tunica Intima / pathology
  • Tunica Media / pathology
  • Venous Thrombosis / complications