Purpose of review
Liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension present with three unique pulmonary complications that are the subject of ongoing clinical research: hepatopulmonary syndrome
, portopulmonary hypertension
(POPH), and hepatic hydrothorax
. The present article is based on a review of the current literature on how to manage these disorders, which are highly important to both anesthesiologists and intensive care physicians.
Recent findings Hepatopulmonary syndrome
leads to progressive hypoxemia through diffuse vasodilatation of the pulmonary microcirculation. Liver transplantation
, although associated with increased mortality, is the only viable treatment. POPH occurs when vascular remodeling triggers an increase in pulmonary artery pressure and resistance. The role of liver transplantation
in POPH is controversial given the excessive mortality in patients with moderate to severe POPH. Medical treatment is able to decrease pulmonary artery pressures, though multicenter randomized controlled trials showing improved outcome are lacking to date. Ultrasound plays an increasingly important role in the diagnosis of all three conditions.
Patients with end-stage liver disease are at risk for respiratory failure and hypoxemia and need to be screened for hepatopulmonary syndrome
, POPH, and hepatic hydrothorax
. Failure to timely recognize and adequately treat these complications of cirrhosis may have severe consequences.