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Angiology. 2000 Dec;51(12):1013-20.

Pulmonary hypertension associated with liver cirrhosis: an echocardiographic study.

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Department of Clinical Medicine and Cardiovascular Sciences, Federico II University of Naples, Italy.


Conflicting results about the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension, ranging from 0.25% to 20%, in liver patients with portal hypertension, have previously been reported. The aim of this study was to evaluate pulmonary arterial pressure in a consecutive series of cirrhotic patients, using a noninvasive method. A complete clinical, laboratory, ultrasonographic, and endoscopic evaluation were performed in 83 consecutive liver patients assessed according to Child's classification and Pugh's score and according to evidence of ultrasonographic and/or endoscopic signs of portal hypertension. A complete echocardiographic evaluation was also performed and pulmonary arterial systolic pressure (PASP) was estimated by measuring tricuspidal regurgitation, using the modified Bernoulli equation. These same evaluations were performed by the same observers in a group of 60 healthy volunteers. The results showed a surprisingly high prevalence (about 20%) of pulmonary hypertension. Patients with more severe liver damage and portal hypertension showed a high prevalence for pulmonary hypertension. A progression in the frequency of portopulmonary hypertension (PPH) was found in Child's classification A to C, and in patients without to patients with evidence of portal hypertension. However, increased PASP was detected in some patients belonging to Child's class A, without evidence of portal hypertension. In conclusion, the echocardiographic examination (a noninvasive technique), appears suitable for detecting pulmonary hypertension in patients with compensated liver cirrhosis, and can elucidate some aspects of the clinical course of the so-called PPH syndrome.

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