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Lancet. 2004 May 1;363(9419):1461-8.

Portopulmonary hypertension and hepatopulmonary syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, Hannover Medical School, 30623 Hannover, Germany.


The clinically and pathophysiologically distinct entities of portopulmonary hypertension and hepatopulmonary syndrome occur in a substantial proportion of patients who have advanced liver disease of different causes. These disorders are notoriously underdiagnosed, but they have a substantial impact on survival and require focused treatment. Abnormal intrapulmonary vascular dilatation, the hallmark of hepatopulmonary syndrome, can cause profound hypoxaemia that can be very difficult to treat. By contrast, portopulmonary hypertension results from excessive pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular remodelling that eventually leads to right-heart failure. Insights into the pathogeneses of these syndromes have led to novel therapeutic approaches. However, in severely affected patients, effective treatment remains a difficult task. In selected patients, liver transplantation represents the only treatment option, but the decision to do isolated liver transplantation is particularly challenging in patients who have severe pulmonary disease involvement. Data from several centres have contributed to provide criteria that allow improved prediction of which patients may, or may not, benefit from liver transplantation alone.

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