Transient hypoxemia is not uncommon after major cardiac or thoracic surgery. The differential diagnosis includes atelectasis, pulmonary embolus, pneumonitis, congestive heart failure and several other diverse cardiovascular and pulmonary problems. Less well recognized is transient right to left intracardiac shunting through a patent foramen ovale or previously unsuspected atrial septal defect. Three cases of clinically important hypoxemia associated with right to left shunting after aortocoronary bypass surgery are presented. The right to left shunting was documented with contrast-enhanced echocardiography, which is a simple, inexpensive and accurate means of screening patients for intracardiac right to left shunts and may play a valuable role in the postoperative management of patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine