Clinical Updates on the Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension

Wen Ruan, Jonathan Jl Yap, Kevin Kh Quah, Foong Koon Cheah, Ghee Chee Phua, Duu Wen Sewa, Aidila Binte Ismail, Alicia Xf Chia, David Jenkins, Ju Le Tan, Victor Tt Chao, Soo Teik Lim
Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore 2020, 49 (5): 320-330

INTRODUCTION: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) is a known sequela after acute pulmonary embolism (PE). It is a debilitating disease, and potentially fatal if left untreated. This review provides a clinically relevant overview of the disease and discusses the usefulness and limitations of the various investigational and treatment options.

METHODS: A PubMed search on articles relevant to PE, pulmonary hypertension, CTEPH, pulmonary endarterectomy, and balloon pulmonary angioplasty were performed. A total of 68 articles were found to be relevant and were reviewed.

RESULTS: CTEPH occurs as a result of non-resolution of thrombotic material, with subsequent fibrosis and scarring of the pulmonary arteries. Risk factors have been identified, but the underlying mechanisms have yet to be fully elucidated. The cardinal symptom of CTEPH is dyspnoea on exertion, but the diagnosis is often challenging due to lack of awareness. The ventilation/perfusion scan is recommended for screening for CTEPH, with other modalities (eg. dual energy computed tomography pulmonary angiography) also being utilised in expert centres. Conventional pulmonary angiography with right heart catheterisation is important in the final diagnosis of CTEPH.

CONCLUSION: Operability assessment by a multidisciplinary team is crucial for the management of CTEPH, as pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) remains the guideline recommended treatment and has the best chance of cure. For inoperable patients or those with residual disease post-PEA, medical therapy or balloon pulmonary angioplasty are potential treatment options.

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