Replacing your damaged liver with a new liver via a liver transplant is the only effective treatment for hepatopulmonary syndrome in both children and adults. Oxygen therapy to boost low blood oxygen levels can help people feel more comfortable, but it doesn't affect the syndrome itself. Mayo Clinic is testing some experimental drugs to help symptoms of respiratory distress.
Liver transplant offers the best chance for long-term survival for people with hepatopulmonary syndrome. Many people with hepatopulmonary syndrome are referred to Mayo Clinic because of Mayo Clinic's extensive experience treating liver disease and performing liver transplants. More than 5,200 liver transplants have been performed at Mayo Clinic since 1985.
Mayo Clinic doctors looked back at results for all people treated for hepatopulmonary syndrome at Mayo over a 17-year period. They found that 76 percent of those treated with a liver transplant (24 people) were alive five years after their transplant. These results compare favorably to national survival statistics for anyone receiving a liver transplant (a little over 70 percent five-year survival). In contrast, five-year survival for people with hepatopulmonary syndrome who did not receive a liver transplant was 23 percent.