Introduction: Pulmonary capillary pressure (PCP), together with the time constants of the various vascular compartments, define the dynamics of the pulmonary vascular system. Our objective in the present study was to estimate PCPs and time constants of the vascular system in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH), and compare them with these measures in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Methods: We conducted the study in two groups of patients with pulmonary hypertension: 12 patients with IPAH and 11 with ARDS. Four methods were used to estimate the PCP based on monoexponential and biexponential fitting of pulmonary artery pressure decay curves.
Results: PCPs in the IPAH group were considerably greater than those in the ARDS group. The PCPs measured using the four methods also differed significantly, suggesting that each method measures the pressure at a different site in the pulmonary circulation. The time constant for the slow component of the biexponential fit in the IPAH group was significantly longer than that in the ARDS group.
Conclusion: The PCP in IPAH patients is greater than normal but methodological limitations related to the occlusion technique may limit interpretation of these data in isolation. Different disease processes may result in different times for arterial emptying, with resulting implications for the methods available for estimating PCP.