Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Jun 15;183(12):1605-13. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201011-1854CI. Epub 2011 Feb 17.


Over the past 4 decades, chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension has evolved from an autopsy curiosity to a potentially correctable form of pulmonary hypertension. Advances in surgical techniques along with the introduction of pulmonary hypertension disease-modifying therapies provide a therapeutic option for the majority of patients afflicted with the disease. Approximately 5,000 thromboendarterectomy procedures have now been performed worldwide with mortality rates reported by established programs experienced in the management of this disease process falling to a range of 4 to 7%. A mortality rate of 1.3% has been reported in patients at low risk based on their preoperative hemodynamic profile. After a successful pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, substantial improvement and often normalization can be achieved in right ventricular function, gas exchange, exercise capacity, and quality of life. For patients not candidates for thromboendarterectomy, or for those with persistent post-thromboendarterectomy pulmonary hypertension, disease-modifying medical therapies have been demonstrated to stabilize and improve pulmonary hemodynamics, albeit not to the same extent as primary thromboendarterectomy. The current review focuses on the diagnostic approach to chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension and the available surgical and medical therapeutic options. Additional research is necessary to more accurately predict postoperative hemodynamic outcome and to define the optimal therapeutic approach, especially in patients with involvement of the distal vasculature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / surgery
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / surgery
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome