Intravascular ultrasonic characteristics and vasoreactivity of the pulmonary vasculature in children with pulmonary hypertension

Am J Cardiol. 1998 Mar 15;81(6):740-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(97)01031-x.


We sought to describe the morphologic characteristics of pulmonary arteries by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) in children with and without pulmonary hypertension to compare these anatomic findings with those of pulmonary wedge angiography, and to determine the relation between these structural findings and functional reactivity to pulmonary vasodilators. Direct evaluation of pulmonary vascular structure in children with pulmonary hypertension with current imaging techniques has been limited and little is known about the relation between structural and functional characteristics of the pulmonary vasculature. In 23 children undergoing cardiac catheterization (15 with pulmonary hypertension and 8 controls) we performed IVUS and pulmonary wedge angiography of the distal pulmonary arteries in the same lobe. IVUS was performed in 44 pulmonary arteries measuring 2.5 to 5.0 mm internal diameter with a 3.5Fr 30-MHz IVUS catheter. We assessed vasoreactivity to inhaled nitric oxide (NO) and oxygen in 13 of 15 children with pulmonary hypertension. Baseline pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) was greater in the 15 children with pulmonary hypertension than in the 8 controls (9.5+/-1.9 vs 1.5+/-0.3 U x m2, p <0.05). NO lowered PVR in patients with pulmonary hypertension (p <0.05). IVUS studies in patients with pulmonary hypertension showed a thicker middle layer, wall thickness ratio, and diminished pulsatility than did those in controls (p <0.05). The inner layer was not visualized by IVUS in any control patient, but was seen in 9 of 15 patients with pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary artery wedge angiography correlated with baseline mean pulmonary artery pressure and PVR as well as with IVUS findings of wall thickness ratio and inner layer thickness. The inner layer was not visualized by IVUS in any patient with grade 1 wedge angiograms or in 86% of patients with grade 2 wedge angiograms. All patients with grade 4 and 80% of patients with grade 3 wedge angiograms had a visible inner layer. Vasoreactivity to NO and oxygen did not correlate with structural assessment of the pulmonary vasculature by IVUS. Structural changes in the pulmonary arteries in children with pulmonary hypertension can be directly visualized by IVUS, but are not predictive of NO-induced pulmonary vasodilation. IVUS examination of pulmonary arteries may complement current techniques utilized in the evaluation of children with pulmonary hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Angiography
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Nitric Oxide / administration & dosage
  • Nitric Oxide / pharmacology
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage
  • Oxygen / pharmacology
  • Pulmonary Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Artery / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Circulation / drug effects
  • Regression Analysis
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Oxygen