Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
Home About us Editors Ahead of Print Current Issue Archives Search Instructions Subscribe Advertise Login 
Users online:621   Print this pageEmail this pageSmall font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size   

 Table of Contents    
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 244-245
The outstanding diagnosis

Department of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication7-Oct-2015

How to cite this article:
Panchabhai TS, Bandyopadhyay D, Heresi G, Kapoor A. The outstanding diagnosis. J Emerg Trauma Shock 2015;8:244-5

How to cite this URL:
Panchabhai TS, Bandyopadhyay D, Heresi G, Kapoor A. The outstanding diagnosis. J Emerg Trauma Shock [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jul 12];8:244-5. Available from:

Dear Editor,

Altman and Robin first described platypnea-orthodeoxia syndrome (POS) in 1969, [1] although this physiological phenomenon had been originally described in 1956. [2] POS results from intra-cardiac, intra-pulmonary or intrahepatic arteriovenous shunts and ventilation-perfusion mismatch. We report this syndrome in a 66-year-old Caucasian female with an 80 pack-year smoking history 7 months after right pneumonectomy for hilar squamous cell carcinoma. One-month post-pneumonectomy, she noticed gradual onset dyspnea, more pronounced on standing upright and with activity, mandating her to use 3 L of oxygen which she did not use before surgery. Preoperative pulmonary function tests showed forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV 1 ) of 1.69 L (79% predicted) and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) of 66% predicted.

On admission, she was hemodynamically stable, but her oxygen saturations were significantly different in supine (98%) versus sitting up (85%) position on 80% high flow oxygen. Computerized tomography of chest with contrast ruled out pulmonary embolism or an infiltrating process. Given her postural desaturation, a likelihood of either cardiac or pulmonary shunt was entertained. A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) with agitated saline contrast was non-diagnostic due to motion artifact and a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) was pursued in supine position. A team of advanced airway specialists was at bedside during the TEE which demonstrated a fenestrated patent foramen ovale (PFO) with agitated saline [Figure 1] and [Video 1] and bidirectional shunt flow [Figure 2] and [Video 2]. Right and left heart catheterization done prior to PFO closure revealed normal coronaries, normal chamber pressures (right atrium = 10 mm Hg, pulmonary artery occlusion pressure 8 mm Hg) and an intracardiac echo probe showed positive agitated saline contrast study across inter-atrial septum. The PFO was closed with a 25 mm amplatzer cribriform device. Post procedure, the patient's oxygen saturation dramatically improved to 96% on room air. Follow-up TTE showed no residual shunting. She was discharged home on clopidogrel, aspiring and 2 L oxygen with exertion, which was weaned off in 2 weeks.
Figure 1: Transesophageal echocardiogram demonstrating patent foramen ovale after agitated saline infusion

Click here to view
Figure 2: Transesophageal echocardiogram showing bidirectional flow with color Doppler

Click here to view

Isolated reports of similar complications post-pneumonectomy have been reported after the original description of "postural cyanosis." [2] All cases occurred after right pneumonectomy or lobectomy; usually around 8 weeks following surgery. This time lag may be from time taken for shifting and reorientation mediastinal structures and hyperinflation of opposite lung. The pathophysiologic mechanism of POS post-pneumonectomy is related to an anatomic component of atrial septal defect (ASD)/PFO and a functional component from re-direction of shunt flow in an upright posture. [3] Post-pneumonectomy, mediastinal shift causes the inter-atrial septum to stretch and opening up of a previously silent ASD/PFO. In upright position, the weight of the heart pulls the inter-atrial septum causing the PFO/ASD to widen further. The functional component may occur due to detrimental effect of the upright position on cardiac output and generation of pressure gradient across ASD/PFO caused by limited availability of vascular bed and increased pressure due to fluid filled hemithorax. This complication was corrected in most patients with ASD/PFO closure. [3]

Prompt recognition of this postural hypoxemia is important while assessing patients with dyspnea few weeks of right lung resection because closure of the interatrial communication frequently leads to cure as described in our patient.

   References Top

Altman M, Robin ED. Platypnea (diffuse zone I phenomenon?). N Engl J Med 1969;281:1347-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
Schnabel TG Jr, Ratto O, Kirby CK, Johnson J, Comroe JH Jr. Postural cyanosis and angina pectoris following pneumonectomy: relief by closure of an interatrial septal defect. J Thorac Surg 1956;32:246-50.  Back to cited text no. 2
Cheng TO. Platypnea-orthodeoxia syndrome: etiology, differential diagnosis, and management. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv 1999;47:64-6.  Back to cited text no. 3

Correspondence Address:
Aanchal Kapoor
Department of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2700.161657

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded23    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal