Medical therapy, percutaneous coronary intervention and prognosis in patients with chronic total occlusions

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There is little published data reporting outcomes for those found to have a chronic total coronary occlusion (CTO) that is electively treated medically versus those treated by percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). We sought to compare long-term clinical outcomes between patients treated by PCI and elective medical therapy in a consecutive cohort of patients with an identified CTO.


Patients found to have a CTO on angiography between January 2002 and December 2007 in a single tertiary centre were identified using a dedicated database. Those undergoing CTO PCI and elective medical therapy to the CTO were propensity matched to adjust for baseline clinical and angiographic differences.


In total, 1957 patients were identified, a CTO was treated by PCI in 405 (20.7%) and medical therapy in 667 (34.1%), 885 (45.2%) patients underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Of those treated by PCI or medical therapy, propensity score matching identified 294 pairs of patients, PCI was successful in 177 patients (60.2%). All-cause mortality at 5 years was 11.6% for CTO PCI and 16.7% for medical therapy HR 0.63 (0.40 to 1.00, p=0.052). The composite of 5-year death or myocardial infarction occurred in 13.9% of the CTO PCI group and 19.6% in the medical therapy group, HR 0.64 (0.42 to 0.99, p=0.043). Among the CTO PCI group, if the CTO was revascularised by any means during the study period, 5-year mortality was 10.6% compared with 18.3% in those not revascularised in the medical therapy group, HR 0.50 (0.28–0.88, p=0.016).


Revascularisation, but not necessarily PCI of a CTO, is associated with improved long-term survival relative to medical therapy alone.

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