Hepatopulmonary Syndrome

1 What is Hepatopulmonary Syndrome?

 Hepatopulmonary syndrome is a very uncommon condition that affects the lungs of individuals with advanced liver disease. This disease results in low blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia) caused by the expansion  of blood vessels in size and number. This makes it difficult for the lungs to deliver adequate amounts of oxygen to the body. Liver transplant is the only known cure for this condition.

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2 Symptoms

Some symptoms of hepatopulmonary syndrome include:

Patients can complain from dyspnea and can become increasing cyanotic.

3 Causes

Hepatopulmonary syndrome is caused by the formation of microscopic pulmonary arteriovenous dilations in patients with both chronic and acute liver failure.

This mechanism is unknown but is thought to be as a result of increased liver production or decreased liver clearance of vasolidators, possibly involving nitric oxide.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of hepatopulmonary syndrome is done by performing several tests.

The hepatopulmonary syndrome is suspected in any individual with a known liver disease who reports dyspnea.

Patients with clinically significant symptoms should undergo pulse oximetry.

A useful diagnostic test that can be carried out is a contrast echocardigraphy test.

5 Treatment

Currently, the only known treatment method for hepatopulmonary syndrome is a liver transplant.

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