Diagnosis at Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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Most people who are diagnosed with hepatopulmonary syndrome have already been diagnosed with a liver condition, usually cirrhosis. People with liver disease who have shortness of breath (dyspnea) or symptoms of low oxygen levels in the blood (hypoxemia) are tested for the marker of hepatopulmonary syndrome — abnormal blood vessels in the lungs.

The two main tests used are:

  • Contrast-enhanced echocardiogram. You're given a solution (agitated saline) through an arm vein that creates harmless, tiny bubbles. The bubbles can be seen in all chambers of the heart only if they pass through dilated lung blood vessels.
  • Nuclear medicine lung scan. You are given a radioactive agent that can be visualized in the lungs and the brain to quantify how much of the agent passes through dilated lung blood vessels.

Learn more about echocardiograms.

Jan. 10, 2015