Pulmonary artery pressure may be estimated non-invasively in the premature newborn infant because of its negative correlation with the time to peak velocity:right ventricular ejection time (TPV:RVET) ratio calculated from the pulmonary artery Doppler waveform. We studied 54 very low birthweight infants on days 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, 21, and 28 after birth. Thirty four infants developed chronic lung disease (CLD). Twenty did not and acted as controls. After correcting the TPV:RVET ratio for heart rate (TPV:RVET(c)), during the first 14 days the TPV:RVET(c) ratio rose progressively in both groups suggesting a fall in pulmonary artery pressure. This occurred at a significantly slower rate in the CLD group. From days 14 to 28 there was a significant fall in the ratio in the CLD group only, suggesting an increase in pulmonary artery pressure. Using CLD as the end point, a TPV:RVET(c) ratio < 0.54 on day 7 had a predictive value of 78% (sensitivity 73%, specificity 65%). This rose to a predictive value of 97% (sensitivity 88%, specificity 95%) on day 28. The non-invasive assessment of pulmonary artery pressure may be useful in the early clinical management of the very low birthweight infant at risk of developing CLD.
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