Purpose of review: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), especially when severe in patients unsuited for pulmonary endarterectomy, has a poor prognosis. Balloon pulmonary angioplasty (BPA) is a new catheter-based alternative treatment option for patients with inoperable CTEPH. BPA has not been widely accepted, however, primarily because of possible fatal complications, although effects described in 2001 were encouraging. Recent studies about BPA from Japan and Norway are promising. However, this emerging catheter-based intervention is still considered to be experimental because of a number of concerns and unanswered questions. This review describes the recent progress in BPA at the dawn of a new CTEPH treatment era.
Recent findings: Recent studies about BPA show consistently beneficial effects in haemodynamics, symptoms, 6-minute walking distance, and biomarkers. Exercise capacity and right ventricular function are also improved by BPA. However, this new technique still has potentially fatal complications, including reperfusion oedema and pulmonary artery perforation, even in recent studies. There remain a number of concerns and unanswered questions about BPA, including indications, best procedural approach, and long-term outcomes.
Summary: Recent advances in BPA for inoperable CTEPH are promising. Further investigation by multidisciplinary CTEPH teams is mandatory before BPA's role in CTEPH treatment strategies is determined.