Balloon Pulmonary Angioplasty

Balloon Pulmonary Angioplasty (BPA) is a fairly new procedure, that has been a treatment option for patients with Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH) since 2018.

The pioneering treatment is an option for people with CTEPH who are unsuitable for pulmonary endarterectomy surgery.

What does it involve?

The procedure involves a very fine wire being inserted into blood vessels in the lungs, guiding a tiny balloon into position. The balloon is inflated, to around the size of a pea, for a few seconds to push the blockage aside and restore blood flow to the lung tissue. The balloon is then deflated and removed. This can be repeated several times in different parts of the lung during a single treatment session.

How many sessions are needed?

BPA usually involves up to four treatment sessions, four to six weeks apart.

Are you awake during the procedure?

You will be given a light sedation and local anaesthetic, which help you relax and block the pain. You will feel very sleepy but will be able to hear and understand instructions.

Is it a cure for CTEPH?

BPA has shown to significantly improve breathlessness symptoms, lower lung blood vessel pressures and relieve heart failure. The effects appear to be long lasting although because it’s a fairly new treatment, further work is required to confirm these results in the longer term.

Where is BPA carried out?

The Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge is the only hospital in the UK that carries out the BPA. It carried out its first in 2015 and was then commissioned to provide the service across the UK from 2018. Find out more about the service on their website.

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