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Background. Pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) is the only definitive and potentially curative therapy for chronic thromboembolic
pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), associated with impressive improvements in symptoms and haemodynamics. However, it is only
offered at a few centres in South Africa. The characteristics and outcomes of patients undergoing PEA in Cape Town have not been
Objectives. To assess the difference in World Health Organization functional class (WHO-FC) before and at least 6 weeks after surgery.
Methods. We interrogated the adult cardiothoracic surgery database at the University of Cape Town between December 2005 and April 2021 for patients undergoing PEA at Groote Schuur Hospital and a private hospital.
Results. A total of 32 patients underwent PEA, of whom 8 were excluded from the final analysis owing to incomplete data or a histological diagnosis other than CTEPH. The work-up of these patients for surgery was variable: all had a computed tomography pulmonary angiogram, 7 (29%) had a ventilation/perfusion scan, 5 (21%) underwent right heart catheterisation, and none had a pulmonary angiogram. The perioperative mortality was 4/24 (17%): 1 patient (4%) had a cardiac arrest on induction of anaesthesia, 2 patients (8%) died of postoperative pulmonary haemorrhage, and 1 patient (4%) died of septic complications in the intensive care unit. Among the survivors, the median (interquartile range) improvement in WHO-FC was 2 (1 - 3) classes (p=0.0004); 10/16 patients (63%) returned to a normal baseline (WHO-FC I).
Conclusion. Even in a low-volume centre, PEA is associated with significant improvements in WHO-FC and a return to a normal baseline in survivors.
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