Objectives: To investigate the clinical presentation, manifestations, and response to therapy of portopulmonary hypertension (PPHTN) in pediatric patients.
Study design: This study was a retrospective chart review describing the evaluation and course of 7 patients with PPHTN.
Results: Causes of portal hypertension (HTN) included biliary atresia (3 cases), cavernous transformation of the portal vein (2 cases), and primary sclerosing cholangitis and cryptogenic cirrhosis (1 case each). The median interval from the diagnosis of portal HTN to PPHTN was 12.1 years. Four patients presented with a new heart murmur, 4 presented with syncope, and 3 presented with dyspnea. Although electrocardiograms (ECGs) and chest x-rays were normal in 3 and 2 patients, respectively, echocardiograms diagnosed pulmonary HTN in all 7 patients. Five patients had cardiac catheterizations; the average mean pulmonary artery pressure was 65 +/- 20 mm Hg. Response to therapy was variable, and 4 patients died. Postmortem lung tissue examination revealed plexiform lesions and pulmonary arteriopathy.
Conclusions: Because symptoms are subtle and may be overlooked, pediatric patients with portal HTN who develop a new heart murmur, dyspnea, syncope, or who are being evaluated for liver transplantation require evaluation for PPHTN. ECG and chest x-ray are insensitive screens for PPHTN. An echocardiogram and cardiology evaluation is essential for the diagnosis.