The Particulars: Research has shown that pulmonary vein ablation can be used successfully to treat atrial fibrillation. Catheter-based pulmonary artery denervation is an experimental procedure similar to renal sympathetic nerve ablation, a treatment that has been shown to reduce blood pressure in people with refractory hypertension. The denervation procedure has not been studied in treating pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH).

Data Breakdown: For a study, patients who were unresponsive to a combination of PAH medications without a positive adenosine test were split into two groups. The first underwent denervation, in which the nerve bundle around the pulmonary artery was ablated. The second group (controls) continued medication. Those who underwent denervation experienced average decreases in pulmonary artery pressure of 37 mm Hg to 23 mm Hg. Controls experienced no change in their pulmonary artery pressure.

Take Home Pearl: Catheter-based denervation appears to be a viable treatment option for patients with refractory PAH.