What is fetal pulmonary hypertension?

Updated: Sep 03, 2019
  • Author: Kate A Tauber, MD; Chief Editor: Howard S Weber, MD, FSCAI  more...
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Answer

Answer

Pulmonary hypertension is a normal and necessary state for the fetus, because the placenta, not the lungs, serves as the organ of gas exchange. Most of the right ventricular output crosses the ductus arteriosus to the aorta, and only 13-21% of the combined ventricular output is directed to the pulmonary vascular bed. [4]

Mechanisms that maintain high pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) in utero include low fetal oxygen content, fluid-filled alveoli causing compression of the pulmonary blood vessels, and the presence of vasoconstrictor mediators, such as endothelin-1, thromboxane, and leukotriene.


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