Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hepatopulmonary syndrome in patients with chronic liver disease: role of pulse oximetry

Peter Deibert1*, Hans-Peter Allgaier4, Stefanie Loesch2, Claudia Müller5, Manfred Olschewski3, Hinrich Hamm6, Klaus-Peter Maier5 and Hubert Erich Blum2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine VII, University Freiburg, Germany

2 Department of Medicine II, University Freiburg, , Germany

3 Department of Medical Biometry, University Freiburg, , Germany

4 Helios Hospital, Department of Internal Medicine, Titisee-Neustadt, Germany

5 Liver Center, City Hospital Esslingen, Germany

6 Asklepios Klinik, Dept. of Internal Medicine and Lung Clinic, Westerland, Germany

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BMC Gastroenterology 2006, 6:15  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-6-15

Published: 25 April 2006

Abstract

Background

Hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a rare complication of liver diseases of different etiologies and may indicate a poor prognosis. Therefore, a simple non-invasive screening method to detect HPS would be highly desirable. In this study pulse oximetry was evaluated to identify patients with HPS.

Methods

In 316 consecutive patients with liver cirrhosis (n = 245), chronic hepatitis (n = 69) or non-cirrhotic portal hypertension (n = 2) arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) was determined using a pulse oximeter. In patients with SaO2 ≤92% in supine position and/or a decrease of ≥4% after change from supine to upright position further diagnostic procedures were performed, including contrast-enhanced echocardiography and perfusion lung scan.

Results

Seventeen patients (5.4%) had a pathological SaO2. Four patients (1.3%) had HPS. HPS patients had a significant lower mean SaO2 in supine (89.7%, SD 5.4 vs. 96.0%, SD 2.3; p = 0.003) and upright position (84.3%, SD 5.0 vs. 96.0%, SD 2.4; p = 0.001) and had a lower mean PaO2 (56.2 mm Hg, SD 15.2 vs. 71.2 mm Hg, SD 20.2; p = 0.02) as compared to patients without HPS. The mean ΔSaO2 (difference between supine and upright position) was 5.50 (SD 7) in HPS patients compared to non-HPS patients who showed no change (p = 0.001). There was a strong correlation between shunt volume and the SaO2 values (R = -0.94).

Conclusion

Arterial SaO2 determination in supine and upright position is a useful non-invasive screening test for HPS and correlates well with the intrapulmonary shunt volume.