Hepatopulmonary syndrome is a rare complication of liver disease. Failure or poor function of the liver begins a complex chain of events that leads to the lungs being incapable of the effective transfer of oxygen. This is hepatopulmonary syndrome, and it can cause various breathing and other concerning symptoms. Though doctors are now able to recognize hepatopulmonary syndrome easily, many specifics about the disease and its causes remain unknown.
Doctors generally identify three key features of hepatopulmonary syndrome. Primarily, the individual must have some form of liver disease. Usually, this includes liver dysfunction or extraordinarily high blood pressure in the vein that transfers blood from the intestine to the liver. The person must also be experiencing a widening of the blood vessels that deliver to the lungs. Finally, the individual must experience abnormal oxygenation. Though there is some variability, almost all cases of hepatopulmonary syndrome meet these three criteria.
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