Background: The operative mortality associated with surgical thromboendarterectomy of the pulmonary arteries has decreased at the University of California in San Diego with the application of new techniques. For universal performance of the procedure, however, those factors that contribute to the high operative mortality must be identified. We analyzed our results in 34 consecutive patients undergoing pulmonary thromboendarterectomy to determine those preoperative factors that contribute to operative mortality.
Methods: Since 1983, 34 patients with severe, surgically correctable chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension who were judged to be operable by pulmonary arteriography underwent pulmonary thromboendarterectomy. No patient was excluded because of right ventricular failure or hemodynamic severity of disease; the mean pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) was 54 mm Hg, the mean pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) was 1,094 dynes.s.cm-5, and all patients were in New York Heart Association functional class III or IV.
Results: Postoperative course was characterized either by swift recovery (mean length of stay, 13 days) or by rapid demise resulting from pulmonary or right ventricular failure, or both (overall operative mortality, 23%). In survivors, the mean PAP, PVR, cardiac output, and New York Heart Association functional class were significantly improved (p < 0.05). Patients who died had a significantly greater mean preoperative PAP than did those who survived (62.1 +/- 1.2 versus 49.5 +/- 2.3 mm Hg; p < 0.01) and significantly higher PVR (1,512 +/- 116 versus 949 +/- 85 dynes.s.cm-5; p < 0.01). In addition, both a PVR of more than 1,100 dynes.s.cm-5 and a mean PAP of more than 50 mm Hg could accurately predict operative mortality: operative mortality was six times greater in patients with a preoperative PVR of greater than 1,100 dynes.s.cm-5 (41% versus 5.85%) and almost five times greater in those with a mean PAP of greater than 50 mm Hg (37% versus 8%). No intraoperative factors, including the use or duration of circulatory arrest, affected outcome.
Conclusions: Patients with severe hemodynamic disease (PVR > 1,100 dynes.s.cm-5 and PAP > 50 mm Hg) have a high likelihood of operative mortality and perhaps should not undergo pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, except at institutions where the operation is performed frequently.