Despite major advances in coronary intervention, the recanalization of a chronic total occlusion (CTO) remains a challenge for many interventional cardiologists. Complex anatomy and lesion characteristics demand a special set of skills for procedural success.
Provided patient selection is appropriate, CTO intervention can confer a variety of benefits including relief of angina, improvement in left ventricular function and reduction in ischemic burden. The chances of procedural success are enhanced by having a dedicated CTO program. This involves adequate training of staff, quality control and availability of equipment. A diverse toolkit allows variation in strategy and increases procedural success. Further, skills and equipment are required to manage complications like vessel dissection, perforation and the resultant ischemic or mechanical complications. These procedures can often be lengthy and giving careful consideration to peri-procedural issues like radiation exposure and contrast dose plays a vital role in ensuring optimal patient outcomes and radiation hygiene.
In this article we review the evidence behind indications for CTO intervention and discuss the development of a CTO program.