Dr. Michael Fallon
Dr. Michael Fallon

The Medical School and Memorial Hermann –Texas Medical Center is the administrative site and one of a few sites nationwide conducting a clinical study on the pulmonary vascular complications of liver disease.

This is the only study funded by the National Institutes of Health on this topic. Dr. Michael Fallon, director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, is the principal investigator, and study coordinator is Stacy Burk.

Patients must be referred by their providers for this study, which is a prospective cohort study of subjects with portal hypertension to determine the mechanisms and outcomes of pulmonary vascular complications of liver disease.

Cirrhosis afflicts nearly three million people in the United States, and complications of cirrhosis are the fourth leading cause of death in individuals ages 45 to 65 years. One complication is portopulmonary hypertension (PPHTN) which is pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in the setting of portal hypertension. PPHTN is found in about 6 percent of patients evaluated for liver transplantation and is one of the most common causes of PAH. PPHTN significantly increases mortality and the risks of liver transplantation.

The first two patients have been randomized in the trial locally, and 600 patients will be enrolled over three years. The University of Pennsylvania, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, and Tufts University also are participating in the trial.

To be included in the study, patients must have chronic portal hypertension from intrinsic liver disease or portal vein disease, documented by clinical history or liver biopsy. Patients must be referred for evaluation for liver transplantation or PPHTN (or a known diagnosis of PPHTN).

Patients may not be included if they have:

  • Active infection
  •  Active or recent (< 2 weeks) gastrointestinal bleeding
  •  Lung transplant or liver transplant recipients
  •  If pregnant


To refer a patient to the Pulmonary Vascular Complications of Liver Disease Study, please contact Stacy.Burk@uth.tmc.edu

-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School