Hepatopulmonary Syndrome

Posted by e-Medical PPT Sunday, March 27, 2011
Hepatopulmonary syndrome is a syndrome of shortness of breath and hypoxemia caused by vasodilation in the lungs of patients with liver disease. Dyspnea and hypoxemia are worse in the upright position (which is called platypnea and orthodeoxia, respectively).
The hepatopulmonary syndrome results from the formation of microscopic intrapulmonary arteriovenous dilatations in patients with both chronic and acute liver failure. The mechanism is unknown but is thought to be due to increased hepatic production or decreased hepatic clearance of vasodilators, possibly involving nitric oxide. The vascular dilatations cause overperfusion relative to ventilation, leading to ventilation-perfusion mismatch and hypoxemia. There is an increased alveolar-arterial partial pressure of oxygen gradient while breathing room air.
The hepatopulmonary syndrome is suspected in any patient with known liver disease who reports dyspnea (particularly platypnea). Patients with clinically significant symptoms should undergo pulse oximetry. If the syndrome is advanced, arterial blood gasses should be measured on air.A useful diagnostic test is contrast echocardiography. Intravenous microbubbles (> 10 micrometers in diameter) from agitated normal saline that are normally obstructed by pulmonary capillaries (normally <8 to 15 micrometers) rapidly transit the lung and appear in the left atrium of the heart within 7 heart beats. Pulmonary angiography may reveal diffusely fine or blotchy vascular configuration.
Currently the only definitive treatment in liver transplant.

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