Comparison of Balloon Pulmonary Angioplasty and Pulmonary Vasodilators for Inoperable Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 1;10(1):8870. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-65697-4.


Treatment options for chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) that is not amenable to thromboendarterectomy or is recurrent/persistent after thromboendarterectomy (inoperable CTEPH) include pulmonary vasodilators or balloon pulmonary angioplasty (BPA). We compared efficacy and safety outcomes of BPA with or without pulmonary vasodilators to pulmonary vasodilator therapy alone in patients with inoperable CTEPH. Observational and randomized trial data reporting outcomes for >5 patients with inoperable CTEPH were sought. Single-arm random effects meta-analyses were performed. The primary outcome was change in six-minute walk distance (6MWD). Secondary outcomes included safety; World Health Organization functional class (WHO FC); and change in mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP), pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), and cardiac index. Thirty-four studies with 1604 patients were eligible for analyses. Both treatments resulted in significant improvement in 6MWD (71.0 meters, 95% CI: 47.4-94.5 meters with BPA versus 47.8 meters, 95% CI: 34.5-61.2 meters with pulmonary vasodilators), PVR [-3.1 Wood Units (WU), 95% CI: -4.9 to -1.4 WU versus -1.6 WU, 95% CI: -2.4 to -0.8 WU] and mPAP (-14.8 mmHg, 95% CI: -18.2 to -11.5 mmHg versus -4.9 mmHg, 95% CI: -6.9 to -2.8 mmHg). Cardiac index was similar and most patients were WHO FC II and III after their respective interventions. More complications occurred in the BPA arm. In conclusion, BPA and pulmonary vasodilators both improve 6MWD and hemodynamics in patients with inoperable CTEPH. While BPA may offer greater functional and hemodynamic improvements, this technique carries the accompanying risks of an invasive procedure.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Angioplasty, Balloon*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications
  • Pulmonary Embolism / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Vasodilator Agents