Longitudinal follow-up of six-minute walk distance after pulmonary endarterectomy

Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Apr;91(4):1094-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2010.11.061.


Background: The 6-minute walk test is a useful tool to assess functional outcome after pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) in chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. However, little is known about the longitudinal dynamics in functional improvement. We performed a longitudinal follow-up of 6-minute walk distance, New York Heart Association functional class, and echocardiography after PEA.

Methods: We studied 71 patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension who underwent PEA. A 6-minute walk test and echocardiography were performed before PEA, at 3 months after, and at annual follow-up. At the time of this report, 52 patients had returned for 2-year follow-up, 32 for 3-year follow-up, 23 for 4-year follow-up, and 11 for 5-year follow-up.

Results: Preoperatively, the 6-minute walk distance (6-MWD) correlated with hemodynamic severity of disease (mean pulmonary artery pressure: r = -0.55, p < 0.001); total pulmonary resistance: r = -0.59, p < 0.001) After PEA, 6-MWD increased from 440 ± 109 to 524 ± 83 meters at 1 year (n = 71, p < 0.001). Further improvement was observed from 523 ± 87 meters at 1 year to 536 ± 91 meters at 2 years (n = 52, p < 0.012). After 2 years, no further improvement was observed. At 1 year, the change in 6-MWD from baseline correlated significantly with the change observed in pulmonary hemodynamics. Changes in 6-MWD and hemodynamics were more pronounced in patients with residual pulmonary hypertension after PEA, despite the worse absolute outcome.

Conclusions: In patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, 6-MWD showed a gradual improvement up to 2 years after PEA. Patients with residual pulmonary hypertension benefited most from treatment, despite the worse absolute outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Endarterectomy*
  • Exercise Test* / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / surgery*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Walking*