Pulmonary vascular damage and the development of cor pulmonale following hyaline membrane disease

Pediatr Pulmonol. 1990;9(3):152-61. doi: 10.1002/ppul.1950090306.


Light microscopic morphometric techniques have been used to study the lungs in 17 infants and young children aged 2 weeks to 3.5 years who were born prematurely, developed hyaline membrane disease (HMD), and died with chronic lung disease. They were divided into three groups. In group 1 the babies died without recovering from their initial illness at age 2-13 weeks. In group 2 they died, aged 4-15 months, having recovered from the neonatal illness. Neither group showed clinical or pathological evidence of cor pulmonale (CP). In group 3 children died aged 6 months to 3.5 years with CP. None of the 17 patients had classical fibrotic bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) but all had a reduced alveolar number and an increase in bronchial smooth muscle in small airways. All three groups showed an increase in pulmonary arterial medial thickness (P less than 0.001). In group 1 the appearance of the arteries suggested persistance of the fetal state. In group 2 and 3 the vessels had a more mature structure; in group 3 a marked secondary increase in muscularity was found, approaching the thickness seen in fetal life. In groups 2 and 3 muscle extended into smaller arteries than normal. Vein wall thickness was increased. The alveolar to arterial ratio was normal, the alveolar number was reduced, therefore the total number of arteries was reduced in all three groups. Thus, babies who recover from HMD may have significant vascular abnormalities in the absence of CP; conversely, CP if present, does not mean advanced obliterative pulmonary vascular disease. Thus, pulmonary vascular morphology does not correlate with the presence or absence of CP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / etiology
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / pathology
  • Cardiomegaly / etiology
  • Cardiomegaly / pathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Hyaline Membrane Disease / complications
  • Hyaline Membrane Disease / pathology*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Lung / blood supply*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / ultrastructure
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease / etiology
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease / pathology*