Unmasking hypoxia in Cirrhosis patients: Six-minute walk test as a screening tool for hepatopulmonary syndrome

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

2 Department of Ophthalmology, Peoples College of Medical Sciences, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India


Background: Hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) is one of the complications of advanced cirrhosis which has a serious impact on prognosis of patient. Finding arterial deoxygenation early and initiating higher-level treatment is one of the most critical strategies in the therapy of HPS. In this study, we aimed to assess the utility of six-minute walk test (6MWT) in the diagnosis of HPS. Materials and Methods: We have enrolled 100 consecutive cirrhosis patients referred to the Liver Clinic of a tertiary care centre of India for >1 year. The Child-Pugh score and the MELD score were used to determine the severity of cirrhosis. All the patients underwent transthoracic contrast echocardiography, arterial blood gas measurements on room air, 6MWT, and chest imaging. Results: A total of 100 patients were included in the study after fulfilling the inclusion criteria. HPS was present in 21 out of 100 patients (21%). Median (twenty fifth to seventy fifth percentile) MELD score in patients with HPS was 29 (26–33), which was significantly higher as compared to patients without HPS 22 (14.5–26); P <.0001. The 6MWT was positive in 20 (95.23%) HPS patients, while only 1 patient (4.77%) of HPS had negative 6MWT. If 6MWT is positive, then there was 76.92% probability of HPS and if 6MWT is negative, then 98.65% chances of no HPS. Conclusion: The 6MWT is a simple and effective screening test for HPS, it helps in identifying the patients early who have a potential to deteriorate. This simple intervention would help in prioritizing patients for liver transplantation as liver transplant is the only effective treatment for HPS.


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