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J Formos Med Assoc. 2013 Apr; 112(4): 177–184.
Ru-Jeng Teng, M.D. and Tzong-Jin Wu, M.D.

Abstract

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is a severe pulmonary disorder which occurs one in every 500 live births. About 10–50% of the victims will die of the problem and 7–20% of the survivors develop long term impairments such as hearing deficit, chronic lung disease, and intracranial bleed. Most of the adult survivors show evidence of augmented pulmonary vasoreactivity suggesting a phenotypical change. Several animal models have been used to study the pathophysiology and help to develop new therapeutic modality for PPHN. The etiology of PPHN can be classified into three groups: [A] abnormally constricted pulmonary vasculature due to parenchymal diseases; [B] hypoplastic pulmonary vasculature; [C] normal parenchyma with remodeled pulmonary vasculature. Impaired vasorelaxation of pulmonary artery and reduced blood vessel density in lungs are two characteristic findings in PPHN. Medical treatment includes sedation, oxygen, mechanical ventilation, vasorelaxants (inhaled nitric oxide, inhaled or intravenous prostacyclin, intravenous prostaglandin E1, magnesium sulfate), and inotropic agents. Phosphodiesterase inhibitor has recently been studied as another therapeutic agent for PPHN. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) inhibitor has been studied in animal and a case of premature infant with PPHN successfully treated with ET-I inhibitor has been reported in the literature. Surfactant has been reported as an adjunct treatment for PPHN as a complication of meconium aspiration syndrome. Even with the introduction of several new therapeutic modalities there has no significant change in survival rate. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenator is used when medical treatment fails and patient is considered to have a recoverable cause of PPHN.

Keywords: persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, nitric oxide, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, prostaglandin, endothelin-1, phosphodiesterase, arterial-alveolar oxygen difference, oxygen index, extracorporeal membrane oxygenator

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