Balloon atrial septostomy in pulmonary arterial hypertension: effect on survival and associated outcomes

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2015 Mar;34(3):376-80. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2015.01.004. Epub 2015 Jan 16.


Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive disease that, without early identification and treatment, may lead to right heart failure, multi-organ dysfunction and early death. In severe PAH, in addition to maximal medical therapy, balloon atrial septostomy (BAS) may be used for palliation and as a bridge to lung transplantation. We present our contemporary institutional experience utilizing BAS in adult and pediatric patients with severe PAH.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of 46 BASs performed in 32 patients with PAH from 2002 to 2013. Data obtained included vital status, functional class, medications, hemodynamic measurements from right heart catheterizations and biomarkers. Lung transplantation-free and repeat-BAS-free survival was analyzed.

Results: Median age at BAS was 23 (range 1 to 56) years. The most common indications were symptomatic right heart failure (21 of 46 patients) and pre-syncope/syncope (19 of 46 patients); 69% of patients were WHO Functional Class III or IV pre-BAS. There were no procedural complications or deaths. There were no significant differences in biomarkers or hemodynamic findings between pre-BAS and 1 year or latest follow-up. Seven patients were successfully bridged to lung transplantation. Lung transplantation-free and repeat-BAS-free survival at 30 days, 1 year and 5 years was 87%, 61% and 32%, respectively.

Conclusions: In our experienced center, BAS was shown to be safe in patients with severe PAH on maximal medical management, with no procedural deaths or complications. BAS was safely used as a bridge to lung transplantation or to alleviate right heart failure symptoms and/or syncope. Other potential benefits for end-organ function and overall survival remain to be determined.

Keywords: balloon atrial septostomy; pulmonary arterial hypertension; right heart failure; survival; syncope.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atrial Septum / surgery*
  • Cardiac Catheterization / methods*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / mortality
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / surgery*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Wedge Pressure
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult