Portopulmonary hypertension in children. A study in pediatric autopsies

Arch Med Res. 2009 Oct;40(7):635-9. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2009.08.006.


Background and aims: The relative frequency and risk factors of portopulmonary hypertension in children have not been defined with precision. The few published reports refer to isolated cases or small series from selected populations. The development of pulmonary hypertension in patients with portal hypertension is seldom suspected or documented during life. The examination of autopsy material can identify these cases because pulmonary hypertension produces characteristic histological changes in the pulmonary vasculature.

Methods: Autopsy cases with evidence of portal hypertension were retrieved. Slides of pulmonary tissue from these cases were examined in search of histopathological changes of hypertensive arteriopathy

Results: Seventy six cases of portal hypertension were identified among 7060 autopsies collected between January 1971 and January 2008 (1.07%). Four cases with histopathological evidence of pulmonary hypertension were identified. This represents 5.2% of all cases with portal hypertension. These four patients were females in late childhood or adolescence with idiopathic portal hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension was not diagnosed during their lifetime.

Conclusions: Idiopathic portal hypertension in adolescent girls should be considered a risk factor for the development of portopulmonary hypertension, very likely as a consequence of the functional preservation of hepatic tissue that allows a prolonged survival. An oriented search for early signs of pulmonary hypertension in these patients would appear advisable in order to install timely treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autopsy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension, Portal / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension, Portal / etiology
  • Hypertension, Portal / pathology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology
  • Infant
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Circulation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors