The University of Maryland’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program offers the advanced pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) procedure. PTE is a delicate and complex surgery that can cure chronic (also known as secondary) pulmonary hypertension.

What is PTE?

Pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) is a surgical procedure used to remove blood clots and restore blood flow to the lungs.

Although many people have blood clots in their lungs, in some cases, the clots do not dissolve on their own. Instead, they stick to the vessel wall and obstruct your blood flow. The result of this obstruction is chronic thromboembolic disease. This causes a type of pulmonary hypertension known as secondary, or chronic, pulmonary hypertension. Learn more about our Pulmonary Hypertension Program.

If you have secondary pulmonary hypertension caused by these blood clots, you may develop right heart failure. PTE can cure this type of pulmonary hypertension by restoring normal blood pressure in the pulmonary artery and reversing right-side heart failure.

Who is a Candidate for PTE?

The best candidates for PTE are patients with chronic pulmonary hypertension (also known as pulmonary thromboembolic disease), including those with heart failure who are able to move around independently.

Our heart experts have the resources, capabilities and experience to provide an accurate diagnosis for our PH patients.

Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy: What to Expect

PTE is a very delicate surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia. We will:

  1. Make an incision in your chest and attach you to a heart-lung bypass machine.
  2. Cool your body to approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler body temperature reduces your body’s need for oxygen. 
  3. Open the arteries blocked by the clots.
  4. The heart-lung machine is turned off to create a bloodless surgical field.
  5. While there is no blood flow, we carefully extract the clots from the pulmonary artery walls. 
  6. Repeat this on-off process with the heart-lung bypass machine until we extract all of the clots.
  7. Sew the arteries closed, restore blood flow and close your chest incision. 

PTE: Recovery Period

It will probably take you about four weeks to fully recover from the surgery. PTE surgery restores and improves lung function and capacity. After surgery, you can breathe much better because it cures the heart failure, which is what caused your shortness of breath. After the surgery, these symptoms disappear.

PTE offers a cure. After surgery, you usually only require a blood thinner/anticoagulant. We will also perform follow-up scans to ensure everything is functioning normally.