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Hepatology. 1999 Sep;30(3):641-8.

Improvement in pulmonary hemodynamics during intravenous epoprostenol (prostacyclin): A study of 15 patients with moderate to severe portopulmonary hypertension.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Pulmonary hypertension associated with increased pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) and occurring in the setting of portal hypertension is referred to as "portopulmonary hypertension." Intravenous epoprostenol (prostacyclin) is a potent pulmonary and systemic vasodilator with antithrombotic properties. It can decrease PVR and pulmonary artery pressure in patients with primary (idiopathic) pulmonary hypertension. Using right-heart catheterization, we evaluated the acute pulmonary hemodynamic effects of intravenous epoprostenol in patients with moderate to severe pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary artery pressure [MPAP] >/=35 mm Hg) associated with clinical manifestations of portal hypertension. Effects of long-term infusion of epoprostenol were also evaluated. We studied 15 consecutive patients with portopulmonary hypertension; 14 underwent acute administration of epoprostenol, and no significant side effects were noted. Ten patients received continuous epoprostenol (range, 8 days-30 months). Acute changes in PVR (-34% +/- 18%), MPAP (-16% +/- 10%), and cardiac output (CO) (+21 +/- 18%), were statistically significant (P <.01). Long-term use of epoprostenol further lowered PVR (-47% +/- 12% from baseline and -31% +/- 22% from the acute change; P <.05) in the 6 patients restudied by right-heart catheterization. Death occurred in 6 of 10 (60%) of those receiving long-term epoprostenol. In moderate to severe portopulmonary hypertension, intravenous epoprostenol resulted in a significant improvement (both acute and long-term) in PVR, MPAP, and CO. Potential adverse effects on portal hypertension and implications for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), however, require further study.

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