Prevalence, indications and management of balloon uncrossable chronic total occlusions: Insights from a contemporary multicenter US registry

Judit Karacsonyi, Dimitri Karmpaliotis, Khaldoon Alaswad, Farouc A. Jaffer, Robert W. Yeh, Mitul Patel, John Bahadorani, Anthony Doing, Ziad A. Ali, Aris Karatasakis, Barbara A. Danek, Bavana V. Rangan, Aya J. Alame, Subhash Banerjee, Emmanouil S. Brilakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Balloon uncrossable lesions can be challenging to treat, requiring specialized techniques and equipment. Methods: We examined the prevalence, clinical and angiographic characteristics, management and procedural outcomes of balloon uncrossable lesions in a multicenter chronic total occlusion (CTO) percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) registry. Results: Between 2012 and 2016, 718 CTO PCIs (in which the occlusion was successfully crossed with a guidewire) were performed in 701 patients at 11 US centers. Mean age was 65.6 ± 10 years and 84% of the patients were men. Balloon uncrossable lesions represented 9% of all CTOs. Balloon uncrossable CTOs had more moderate/severe calcification (82% vs. 52%, P < 0.0001), moderate/severe tortuosity (61% vs. 35% P < 0.0001) and higher J-CTO score (2.95 ± 1.32 vs. 2.43 ± 1.23, P = 0.005) as compared with the remaining lesions. Technical and procedural success was significantly lower for balloon uncrossable lesions (90.5% vs. 98.3%, P < 0.0001 and 88.9% vs. 96.6% P = 0.004), respectively, but the incidence of major adverse events was similar (1.6% vs. 2.2%, P = 0.751). Balloon uncrossable lesions required longer procedure (208 [interquartile range: 135, 258] vs. 135 [94, 194] min, P < 0.0001) and fluoroscopy (77 [52, 100] vs. 45 min [27, 75], P < 0.0001) time. Techniques used to treat balloon uncrossable lesions included balloon-assisted microdissection (23%), excimer laser atherectomy (18%), and rotational atherectomy (16%). Excimer laser atherectomy and balloon-assisted microdissection were associated with the highest technical and procedural success rates. Conclusions: Balloon uncrossable CTOs are common, are associated with high rates of technical failure, and require specialized techniques for successful treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-20
Number of pages9
JournalCatheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • balloon angioplasty
  • balloon uncrossable lesion
  • chronic total occlusion
  • percutaneous coronary intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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