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Gastroenterology. 2006 Jul;131(1):69-75.

Hepatopulmonary syndrome in patients with hypoxic hepatitis.

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Department of Internal Medicine IV, Intensive Care Unit 13H1, Medical University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



The hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) is defined as the triad of liver disease, arterial deoxygenation, and widespread pulmonary vasodilatation. Hypoxic hepatitis, also known as ischemic hepatitis, is the leading cause of acute liver impairment in hospitals. It is unknown whether HPS occurs in hypoxic hepatitis. We assessed the prevalence and clinical consequences of HPS in patients with hypoxic hepatitis.


Forty-four patients with hypoxic hepatitis were screened prospectively for HPS using established criteria: (1) presence of hepatic disease, (2) increased alveolar-arterial difference for the partial pressure of oxygen greater than the age-related threshold, and (3) intrapulmonary vasodilatation detected via contrast-enhanced echocardiography. Sixty-two critically ill patients with different cardiopulmonary diseases but without hepatic disease were screened for prevalence of intrapulmonary vasodilatation as a control group.


Criteria of HPS were fulfilled in 18 patients with hypoxic hepatitis. HPS-positive patients had a significantly decreased partial pressure of arterial oxygen (P = .001) and partial pressure of arterial oxygen/fraction of inspired oxygen ratio (P = .034) at the time of diagnosis of HPS, a significant decreased area under the curve of the partial pressure of arterial oxygen/fraction of inspired oxygen ratio during the first 48 hours after diagnosis of hypoxic hepatitis (P = .009), and a significantly increased peak serum aspartate transaminase level (P = .028), compared with patients without HPS. Complete resolution of intrapulmonary vasodilatation was observed during follow-up evaluation. Contrast-enhanced echocardiography was negative for intrapulmonary vasodilatation in all 62 control patients.


Intrapulmonary vasodilatation indicating HPS frequently occurs in patients with hypoxic hepatitis. It is reversible after normalization of the hepatic dysfunction. Clinicians should consider intrapulmonary vasodilatation and HPS in patients with hypoxic hepatitis.

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