Current practice for determining pulmonary capillary wedge pressure predisposes to serious errors in the classification of patients with pulmonary hypertension

Am Heart J. 2012 Apr;163(4):589-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2012.01.024.


Background: Accurate measurement of left ventricular filling pressure is important to distinguish between category 1 pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and category 2 pulmonary hypertension (PH) from left heart diseases (PH-HFpEF). We hypothesized that the common practice of relying on the digitized mean pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP-digital) results in erroneous recordings, whereas end-expiratory PCWP measurements (PCWP-end Exp) provide a reliable surrogate measurement for end-expiratory left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (LVEDP-end Exp-end Exp).

Methods: We prospectively performed left and right cardiac catheterization on 61 patients referred for evaluation of PH and compared the LVEDP-end Exp to end-expiration to the (a) PCWP-end Exp and (b) PCWP-digital.

Results: The PCWP-end Exp was a more reliable reflection of LVEDP-end Exp (mean 13.2 mm Hg vs 12.4 mm Hg; P, nonsignificant) than PCWP-digital (mean 8.0 mm Hg vs 12.4 mm Hg, P < .05). Bland-Altman analysis of PCWP-digital and LVEDP-end Exp revealed a mean bias of -4.4 mm Hg with 95% limits of agreement of -11.3 to 2.5 mm Hg. Bland-Altman analysis of PCWP-end Exp and LVEDP-end Exp revealed a mean bias of 0.9 mm Hg with 95% limits of agreement of -5.2 to 6.9 mm Hg. If PCWP-digital were used to define LVEDP-end Exp, 14 (27%) of 52 patients would have been misclassified as having PAH rather than PH-HFpEF. Patients with obesity and hypoxia were particularly more likely to be misclassified as PAH instead of PH-HFpEF if PCWP-digital was used to define LVEDP-end Exp (odds ratio 8.1, 95% CI 1.644-40.04, P = .01).

Conclusions: The common practice of using PCWP-digital instead of PCWP-end Exp results in a significant underestimation of LVEDP-end Exp. In our study, this translated to nearly 30% of patients being misclassified as having PAH rather than PH from HFpEF.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / classification*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Wedge Pressure*
  • Reproducibility of Results