Diffusion capacity and haemodynamics in primary and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension

LH Steenhuis, HJM Groen, GH Koeter, TW van der Mark*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The transfer factor of the lung for carbon monoxide (TL,CO) is decreased in patients with pulmonary hypertension. The pulmonary membrane diffusion capacity (Dm) and pulmonary capillary blood volume (Vc), were studied to establish: 1) the relative contribution of the components of the transfer factor to the decrease in TL,CO; 2) whether differences exist between primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH); and 3) the relationship between these parameters and haemodynamic parameters.

Dm and Vc were determined in 19 patients with PPB and in eight patients with CTEPH. The patients had been referred for consideration for lung transplantation. Haemodynamic parameters were assessed by heart catheterization.

In the PPH group, Vc was reduced in 12 of 19 patients (mean+/-SD Vc 72+/-14% of the predicted value) and Dm in 17 of 19 patients (60+/-22% pred). In the CTEPH group, Vc was reduced in six of eight patients and Dm in seven of eight patients. The mean TL,CO Dm and Vc values were similar to those in the PPH group.

The reduction in pulmonary membrane diffusion capacity was significantly greater than that in pulmonary capillary blood volume. No differences in pulmonary and cardiovascular functional values were found between the groups. Right atrial pressure showed a significant negative correlation with pulmonary capillary blood volume and an increased pulmonary vascular resistance was associated with a decrease in pulmonary membrane diffusion capacity. These results suggest pronounced functional impairment of the alveolocapillary membrane in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-281
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2000


  • cardiovascular function
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • transfer factor
  • LUNG

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