Severe pulmonary hypertension in liver transplant candidates

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Abstract

Advanced liver disease with portal hypertension may be associated with pulmonary hypertension. A review of 1,205 consecutive liver transplant patients was made to assess the incidence and severity of pulmonary hypertension in patients with end-stage liver disease. Postoperative data were reviewed to determine if outcome was influenced and, in patients with severe pulmonary hypertension, whether pulmonary hypertension was reversed after transplantation. The hemodynamic data of 5 patients who were found to have severe pulmonary hypertension before transplantation and did not receive transplants were also reviewed. The incidence of pulmonary hypertension in the patients who received transplants was 8.5% (n = 102; mean pulmonary artery pressure, > 25 mmHg). The incidence of mild pulmonary hypertension was 6.72% (n = 81; systolic pulmonary artery pressure, 30 to 44 mmHg); that of moderate pulmonary hypertension was 1.16% (n = 14; systolic pulmonary artery pressure, 45 to 59 mmHg); and that of severe pulmonary hypertension was 0.58% (n = 7; systolic pulmonary artery pressure, > 60 mmHg). Mild and moderate pulmonary hypertension did not influence the outcome of the procedure. Severe pulmonary hypertension was associated with mortality rates of 42% at 9 months posttransplantation and 71% at 36 months posttransplantation. Only 2 of 7 patients with severe pulmonary hypertension have survived liver transplantation with a good quality of life. The remaining 5 patients continued to deteriorate with progressive right heart failure with no evidence of amelioration of the pulmonary hypertension. This experience supports the view that in most patients who have severe pulmonary hypertension associated with advanced liver disease, it is caused by fixed pathological changes in the pulmonary vasculature, is not reversible with liver transplantation, and is associated with a very high perioperative mortality rate.

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