Current Opinion in Anesthesiology vol:18 issue:1 pages:63-76
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Options for the surgical treatment of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension are either lung transplantation or pulmonary endarterectomy. Pulmonary endarterectomy is considered permanently curative and the treatment of choice. The procedure dramatically improves functional status and provides an excellent immediate and long-term survival, much better than transplantation. Pulmonary endarterectomy, until recently performed in only a few highly specialized centres, is now spreading worldwide with good results. This review will focus on the understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease and on recent advances in assessment and treatment strategies. RECENT FINDINGS: Recent data reinforce the thromboembolic nature of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, and have shown that the disorder is more common than was thought and remains underdiagnosed. There has recently been a remarkable surge in the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension. Advances in diagnosis, surgical techniques, preoperative treatment, and perioperative management have improved the prognosis of this debilitating disease. New information about pretreatment and medical treatment with prostanoids and endothelin receptor antagonists is now available. SUMMARY: Pulmonary endarterectomy can be successfully performed in selected centres using a multidisciplinary approach involving the specialities of surgery, pulmonary medicine, cardiology, radiology, anaesthesiology and critical care medicine. The largest risk factor remains the degree of operability related to a high pulmonary vascular resistance caused by permanent changes in the pulmonary vascular bed. Early operation is now recommended to prevent these irreversible changes. Further investigations are warranted to establish the role of new drugs in surgical patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension.