Umbilical cord compression produces pulmonary hypertension in newborn lambs: a model to study the pathophysiology of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn

Soifer, S.J.; Kaslow, D.; Roman, C.; Heymann, M.A.

Journal of Developmental Physiology 9(3): 239-252


ISSN/ISBN: 0141-9846
PMID: 3112213
Accession: 006864645

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We investigated the effects of chronic intrauterine hypoxaemia produced by prolonged partial umbilical cord compression on the circulation shortly after birth in lambs. Vascular catheters were inserted in 10 fetal sheep at 120 to 130 days gestation to measure descending aortic blood gases, arterial pH, and arterial O2 saturation. An inflatable silicone rubber balloon cuff was also placed around the umbilical cord. After recovery and the return of descending aortic blood gases to the normal range, the balloon was gradually inflated, decreasing the PaO2 from 21.2 +/- 3.6 to 17.5 +/- 1.3 mm Hg and the arterial O2 saturation from 57.1 +/- 9.2% to 37.2% +/- 5.2. After 14.3 +/- 3.7 days of partial umbilical cord compression, the lambs were delivered by Caesarean section, instrumented to measure systemic and pulmonary arterial, right atrial and pulmonary arterial wedge pressures, pulmonary and systemic blood flows, and mechanically ventilated. Five normal lambs were also studied. From 60 to 120 min after delivery, when compared to normal lambs, the umbilical compression lambs had an increased pulmonary arterial pressure (P less than 0.05) pulmonary vascular resistance (P less than 0.05), and right atrial pressure (P less than 0.05) with similar arterial blood gases. In both groups, hypoxic ventilation produced an increase in pulmonary arterial pressure (P less than 0.05) which on return to room air ventilation decreased to baseline in the normal lambs but not in the umbilical cord compression lambs (P less than 0.05). Prolonged partial umbilical cord compression produces chronic fetal hypoxaemia and pulmonary arterial hypertension after birth. This may represent a model to study the pathophysiology of persistent pulmonary hypertension syndrome.