Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) is a rare form of pulmonary hypertension (PH), or high blood pressure in the lungs. CTEPH occurs when pulmonary embolisms (PE), or blood clots in the lung, block blood vessels in the lung for an extended period of time. Many people with CTEPH are unaware that they have these blood clots. Left untreated, CTEPH can be fatal.
Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute is among an elite group of medical programs in the country – and the only one in western Pennsylvania – with the expertise to perform two highly advanced surgical procedures to treat, and often cure, CTEPH.
Risk factors for CTEPH
Many people who develop pulmonary hypertension after having a pulmonary embolism go through a “honeymoon period” with few, if any, symptoms. Risk factors for developing CTEPH include:
- Large blood clot or more than one embolism episode
- Previous surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy)
- Chronic inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and osteomyelitis
- History of cancer
- Hypercoagulability disorders
- Female gender
CTEPH care at Allegheny Health Network: why choose us?
We have a dedicated team of PH specialists who excel in diagnosing and treating the most complex PH condition, CTEPH. Our CTEPH program is internationally renowned for achieving exceptional patient results. You can receive dedicated care at the accredited AHN Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic.
Advanced diagnostic tests for CTEPH
In addition to diagnostic tests for PH, such as right heart catheterization, our team uses a series of advanced imaging tools to confirm a diagnosis of CTEPH. These tests include:
- Ventilation-perfusion scan: Also called a VQ scan, this test uses intravenous and inhaled radioactive materials to pinpoint blood clots in the lungs.
- Computed tomography angiography (CTA): Our physicians combine CTA with 3D reconstruction of pulmonary arteries to look for clots. This procedure requires the injection of a contrast dye.
- Pulmonary angiography: Your physician takes X-ray pictures while injecting a contrast dye into the pulmonary arteries.
Exclusive CTEPH treatments at AHN
The Cardiovascular Institute is among an exclusive group of medical centers worldwide to provide highly complex surgical procedures for CTEPH. These treatments include:
- Pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE): During this intricate procedure involving open-heart surgery, your physician surgically removes blood clots from arterial branches in the lungs. This procedure can potentially cure CTEPH. AHN physicians evaluate all patients with CTEPH for this procedure. The decision to perform PTE is based on several factors, including:
- Severity of symptoms
- Pulmonary blood pressure readings
- Surgical access to the diseased areas in the pulmonary arteries
- Co-existing medical conditions
- Balloon pulmonary angioplasty (BPA): Your physician may recommend this minimally invasive procedure if health problems or other factors make surgery, or PTE, too risky. Over a period of a couple of weeks, your physician uses a catheter with a small balloon on the tip to gradually open the pulmonary arteries.
Dedicated team of CTEPH experts
Our board-certified physicians in cardiology, pulmonary medicine, rheumatology, cardiothoracic surgery, and palliative care work with PH specialists to provide you with all-inclusive care. A dedicated nurse navigator guides you throughout the diagnosis and treatment process.
Leaders in cardiac care
AHN is the highest-rated health system in western Pennsylvania for patient safety in overall medical care, overall surgical care, heart attack treatment, heart failure treatment, and pulmonary care, according to the 2018 CareChex® quality rating system.* Learn more about the Cardiovascular Institute.
*Number one in market claims are based on CareChex® 2018 Composite Quality Scores and Ratings™ for acute care hospitals serving the combined statistical area (CSA) of Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton. Source: 2018 CareChex, an information service of Quantros, Inc. January 2014 – June 2016