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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Dec 19;48(12):2546-52. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Complications of right heart catheterization procedures in patients with pulmonary hypertension in experienced centers.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.



This study sought to assess the risks associated with right heart catheter procedures in patients with pulmonary hypertension.


Right heart catheterization, pulmonary vasoreactivity testing, and pulmonary angiography are established diagnostic tools in patients with pulmonary hypertension, but the risks associated with these procedures have not been systematically evaluated in a multicenter study.


We performed a multicenter 5-year retrospective and 6-month prospective evaluation of serious adverse events related to right heart catheter procedures in patients with pulmonary hypertension, as defined by a mean pulmonary artery pressure >25 mm Hg at rest, undergoing right heart catheterization with or without pulmonary vasoreactivity testing or pulmonary angiography.


During the retrospective period, 5,727 right heart catheter procedures were reported, and 1,491 were reported from the prospective period, for a total of 7,218 right heart catheter procedures performed. The results from the retrospective and the prospective analyses were almost identical. The overall number of serious adverse events was 76 (1.1%, 95% confidence interval 0.8% to 1.3%). The most frequent complications were related to venous access (e.g., hematoma, pneumothorax), followed by arrhythmias and hypotensive episodes related to vagal reactions or pulmonary vasoreactivity testing. The vast majority of these complications were mild to moderate in intensity and resolved either spontaneously or after appropriate intervention. Four fatal events were recorded in association with any of the catheter procedures, resulting in an overall procedure-related mortality of 0.055% (95% confidence interval 0.01% to 0.099%).


When performed in experienced centers, right heart catheter procedures in patients with pulmonary hypertension are associated with low morbidity and mortality rates.

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