Subclinical pulmonary congestion is prevalent in nephrotic syndrome

Kidney Int. 2016 Feb;89(2):421-8. doi: 10.1038/ki.2015.279.


In patients with nephrotic syndrome (NS), the lung is considered an organ protected from the risk of edema. However, data on objectively measured lung water in NS patients is lacking. Here we measured lung water by an ultrasound (US) technique as well as by transthoracic impedance in 42 asymptomatic patients with active NS, in 14 stage G5D CKD patients on chronic hemodialysis, and in 21 healthy individuals. In patients with active NS, the median number of US-B lines (a metric of lung water) after 5 min in a supine position was significantly higher (12; interquartile range: 7-25) compared with that in healthy individuals (4; 2-9) but similar to that in hemodialysis patients (23; 10-39). The difference between NS patients and healthy individuals was significantly amplified (16; 10-35 vs. 4; 2-9) after 60 min of supine resting and significantly attenuated after 5 min of standing (10; 7-25 vs. 3; 1-6). Posture-dependent changes in lung water in patients with active NS were significantly accentuated compared with both hemodialysis patients and healthy individuals. After NS remission, the number of US-B lines was significantly reduced to 5 (4-18) at 5 min and to 6 (5-22) at 60 min approaching the normal range. Lung congestion in patients with active NS was confirmed by transthoracic impedance. Thus, asymptomatic pulmonary congestion is pervasive in patients with NS. A clinical trial is needed to assess the utility of lung US for the management of patients with NS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Extravascular Lung Water / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / physiopathology*