Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula (patient information)
Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula
Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula On the Web
Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula is a condition in which an abnormal connection (fistula) develops between an artery and vein in the lungs. As a result, blood passes through the lungs without receiving enough oxygen.
What are the symptoms of Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula?
Many people have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can include:
- Bloody sputum
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty exercising
- Shortness of breath with exertion
Other possible symptoms include:
- Blue skin (cyanosis)
- Clubbing of the fingers
What causes Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula?
Pulmonary arteriovenous fistulas are usually the result of a genetic (inherited) disease that causes the blood vessels of the lung to develop abnormally. Fistulas also can be a complication of liver disease.
Who is at highest risk?
- Abscesses or infections of the heart valves
- Abnormal blood vessels (telangiectasias) may be seen on the skin or mucus membranes
- Murmur heard when a stethoscope is placed over the abnormal blood vessel
- High red blood cell count
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Echocardiogram with bubble study
When to seek urgent medical care?
A small number of patients who have no symptoms may not need treatment. For most patients with fistulas, the treatment of choice is to block the fistula during an arteriogram (embolization).
Some patients may need surgery to remove the abnormal vessels and nearby lung tissue.
When arteriovenous fistulas are caused by liver disease, the treatment is a liver transplant.
Where to find medical care for Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula?
Prevention of Pulmonary arteriovenous fistula
Because this condition is often genetic, prevention is not usually possible.
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
The outlook for patients with HHT is not as good as for those without HHT. For patients with HHT, surgery to remove the abnormal vessels usually has a good outcome, and the condition is not likely to return.
Major complications after treatment for this condition are unusual. Complications may include:
- Bleeding in the lung
- Blood clot that travels from the lungs to the arms, legs, or brain (paradoxical embolism)
- Infection in the brain or heart valve