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Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2013 Aug;17(2):242-6. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivt210. Epub 2013 May 14.

Residual pulmonary hypertension after retrograde pulmonary embolectomy: long-term follow-up of 30 patients with massive and submassive pulmonary embolism.

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Department of Cardiac Surgery, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.



Pulmonary hypertension is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients following acute pulmonary embolism. Although thrombolytic therapy decreases pulmonary arterial pressure, compared with anticoagulation alone, it has the propensity for haemorrhagic complications, distal embolization and incomplete recanalization, with the potential risk of late pulmonary hypertension. Surgical embolectomy-once performed solely on critically-ill patients-has now gained favour in a wider range of patients. In this paper we present the outcomes of patients who underwent surgical embolectomy complemented with retrograde technique and follow-up systolic pulmonary arterial pressure (SPAP).


From January 2004 to December 2010, 30 consecutive patients with a mean age of 58±15 years underwent pulmonary embolectomy at our centre. The patients were followed for a mean period of 30.5±12 months. Their New York Heart Association (NYHA) classifications were assessed and their SPAPs were measured by echocardiography.


The overall mortality rate was 13.2% (4/30). Of the remaining patients, 19 patients (73.1%) were in NYHA classes I and II, 7 patients (26.9%) in class III and no patient in class IV. The patients' preoperative and postoperative mean SPAPs were 44.9±5.7 and 34.9±7.1 mmHg, respectively, which showed a significant reduction (P<0.001). The mean SPAP in the follow-up was 29.4±11.5 mmHg, which again showed significant reduction compared with early postoperation values (P<0.001). No significant correlations were found between the level of SPAP reduction in patients' follow-up with age (P=0.727) and total days of ICU admission (P=0.700), but weak correlations with sex (P=0.016) and total intubation time were noticed (P=0.035).


This is the first series reporting the long-term outcome of patients undergoing surgical embolectomy complemented by retrograde embolectomy technique, demonstrating the safety and favourable long-term outcome of this technique. It is also a new element in the growing body of evidence regarding the relevance of surgical embolectomy in patients with acute pulmonary embolism. We concluded that, following surgery, not only does the pulmonary arterial pressure drop immediately, but also the trend toward normalization continues long after operation.


Acute pulmonary embolism; Chronic thrombo-embolic pulmonary hypertension; Retrograde pulmonary embolectomy; Surgical pulmonary embolectomy

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