CardioNerds (Amit Goyal & Daniel Ambinder) join Temple Cardiology Fellows (Anika Vaidy and Anne- Sophie LaCharite-Roberge) in Philadelphia, PA! They discuss a fascinating case of pulmonary hypertension secondary to Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH) associated with May Thurner syndrome and large uterine fibroids. Dr. Vaidya provides the E-CPR and message to applicants. Episode notes were developed by Johns Hopkins internal medicine resident, Eunice Dugan, with mentorship from University of Maryland cardiology fellow Karan Desai.
“To study the phenomena of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.” – Sir William Osler. CardioNerds thank the patients and their loved ones whose stories teach us the Art of Medicine and support our Mission to Democratize Cardiovascular Medicine.
The CardioNerds Cardiology Case Reports series shines light on the hidden curriculum of medical storytelling. We learn together while discussing fascinating cases in this fun, engaging, and educational format. Each episode ends with an “Expert CardioNerd Perspectives & Review” (E-CPR) for a nuanced teaching from a content expert. We truly believe that hearing about a patient is the singular theme that unifies everyone at every level, from the student to the professor emeritus.
We are teaming up with the ACC FIT Section to use the #CNCR episodes to showcase CV education across the country in the era of virtual recruitment. As part of the recruitment series, each episode features fellows from a given program discussing and teaching about an interesting case as well as sharing what makes their hearts flutter about their fellowship training. The case discussion is followed by both an E-CPR segment and a message from the program director.
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A woman in her late 40s with history of iron deficiency anemia, uterine fibroids, and recurrent DVTs/PEs for the past 6 years despite different anticoagulation regimens, presented with syncope and progressive dyspnea on exertion. Family history was negative for DVT/PE or hypercoagulable states. On exam, she was euvolemic. Labs were significant for anemia, a normal pro-BNP, and a negative extensive hypercoagulable workup. TTE showed interventricular systolic septal flattening, right ventricular outflow tract pulse wave doppler with mid-systolic notch, and shortened acceleration time consistent with elevated pulmonary artery pressure. A VQ scan showed bilateral right greater than left mis-matched perfusion defects. CT angiogram showed right greater than left chronic mural thrombus, correlating with pulmonary angiogram which showed severe proximal and mid-vessel disease on the right and distal disease on the left. RHC corroborated the diagnosis of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) with mean pulmonary artery pressure of 41 and PVR of 5.2 Woods Units (WU).
To determine the etiology of her recurrent clots, a lower extremity venogram was performed and showed 80% stenosis of her left common iliac vein by the overlying right common iliac artery confirming May-Thurner syndrome. Lower extremity venogram also showed severe proximal stenosis of right iliac vein thought to be due to large uterine fibroids. Given her severe proximal and mid-vessel clot burden, she underwent pulmonary thromboendarterectomy with a subsequent drop in pulmonary vascular resistance to 1 WU. The etiology of DVTs and CTEPH was determined to be external compression related to both May-Thurner syndrome and uterine fibroids. To prevent future thromboembolic events, she underwent stenting of her left common iliac vein and hysterectomy. With these interventions, RV function returned to normal, and her symptoms completely resolved!
C. TTE: Interventricular systolic septal flattening, RVOT pulse wave Doppler with mid-systolic notch and shortened acceleration time, consistent with elevated PVR, RV:LV ratio 1.3, consistent with moderate RV enlargement, The RV is apex-sharing with an open apical angle
D. VQ Scan: Multiple b/l perfusion defects, R > L, V scan normal
E. CT Angiogram: 1) Enlarged R main PA2) large proximal chronic mural thrombus with minimal vessel count throughout R side, 3) Segmental LLL lining thrombus
F. Pulmonary angiogram significant for severe proximal and mid-vessel disease in the right segmental arteries. Patient also had severe distal disease in the left sub segmental disease (not shown).
G. Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy (PTE)
H. LE Venogram: LEFT CIV > 80% stenosis as a result of compression from an overlying right common iliac artery. This is consistent with May-Thurner syndrome. RIGHT EIV (not shown)– Significant proximal stenosis
I. Status Post left iliac vein stent
J. ECG: New typical atrial flutter
Episode Schematics & Teaching
The CardioNerds 5! – 5 major takeaways from the #CNCR case
- In patients with progressive dyspnea, exercise intolerance, and persistence of symptoms of PE despite adequate anticoagulation, there should be an evaluation for Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH). CTEPH is a form of pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension (PH) from incomplete resolution of pulmonary thromboemboli causing chronic, fibrotic, flow limiting changes to the pulmonary vascular bed. Risk factors include recurrent PE, hypercoagulable states, and medical conditions such as splenectomy, ventriculo-atrial shunts, infected intravenous catheters/devices, malignancy, and external venous compression. NOTE: many patients will not have a documented history of DVT/PE and so a high index of suspicion is important.
- The following echocardiographic findings suggest pulmonary hypertension: interventricular systolic septal flattening indicating RV pressure overload, RV outflow tract (RVOT) pulse wave doppler with mid-systolic notch, decreased RVOT acceleration time, right atrial enlargement, right ventricular dilation and hypertrophy +/- functional tricuspid regurgitation, and an elevated estimated RV systolic pressure (RVSP).
- CTEPH is rare and carries a high rate of morbidity and mortality; therefore, a high index of suspicion is necessary. There are two components to diagnosis:
- Diagnose CTEPH: Multiple imaging modalities are involved to confirm and assess severity. V/Q scan is highly sensitive and is the initial screening modality to detect perfusion abnormalities. Chest CT with IV contrast may identify parenchymal and mediastinal pathology not otherwise seen; although not sensitive, CT may show: PA dilation, eccentric filling defects with variable degrees of occlusion, vascular webs or bands, mosaic perfusion pattern of the lung parenchyma, and RV enlargement. RHC can confirm the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, differentiate pre-capillary from post-capillary PH, quantify vascular resistance and cardiac output, and can be a comparative marker post-intervention. Conventional PA angiography is useful for pre-operative planning.
- Diagnose the underlying predisposition/etiology: Think about Virchow’s Triad: Hypercoagulability, Stasis, and Endothelial injury. Apart from ruling out hypercoagulable states, evaluating for lower extremity vascular compression can be important in select patients with imaging such as venography. May-Thurner syndrome is a condition of extrinsic venous compression of the left common iliac vein by the common iliac artery. Evidence of any compression should be addressed to prevent future venous thrombi and subsequent emboli.
- Treatment for CTEPH starts with lifelong anticoagulation. Pulmonary angiography aids in surgical planning as proximal disease is more likely to be operable than distal disease. Based on severity and other comorbidities, pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) can be a favorable option. PEA improves symptoms, survival, hemodynamics parameters, and RV remodeling. Other treatment strategies include medical management, balloon pulmonary angioplasty, and lung transplant. Pulmonary artery denervation is being considered as an experimental modality.
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is common in patients with pulmonary artery hypertension and CTEPH and often indicate progression of right-sided dysfunction. PH patients rely more on active than passive RV filling, and are highly sensitive to changes in RV afterload. Supraventricular tachycardias may further precipitate decompensation given (1) the loss of atrial kick which compromises diastolic filling, and (2) tachycardias which increase RV wall tension increasing RV afterload. Therefore, restoration of sinus rhythm is strongly encouraged.
- JACC 2018 – CTEPH Review
- ACC Expert Analysis 2019 – Rx of CTEPH
- May-Thurner Updodate
- Pulmonary Circulation 2019 – Pathophysiology, incidence, management, and consequences of cardiac arrhythmia in PAH and CTEPH
- Pulmonary Circulation 2012 – Evaluation of patients with CTEPH for PTE
- ESC/ERC Dx and Eval PH