PPHN Treatment

Newborns with PPHN do not get enough oxygen into their blood. Low oxygen levels (hypoxia) can cause serious health problems and result in multiple organ damage and even death. It is critical that hypoxia be prevented or reversed in a newborn with PPHN. The primary goal of PPHN treatment is to increase oxygenation of the blood in the lungs so that enough oxygen is delivered to the organs.

Treatment of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn

PPHN treatment usually is administered by a specialist in newborn illness called a neonatologist. There are a variety of therapies that may be used in the treatment of PPHN. Therapy options include the following:

  • 100% Oxygen – The first step in treating PPHN is to get 100% oxygen into the newborn’s lungs using a breathing mask or plastic hood. This will often result in a normal relaxation of the pulmonary arteries and improved pulmonary blood flow.
  • Mechanical Ventilation – A tube is inserted directly into the infant’s trachea (windpipe). A ventilator administers oxygen into the lungs through the tube and takes over the newborn’s breathing. Mechanical ventilation almost always is required for treating severe PPHN.
  • Nitric Oxide – Breathing Nitric Oxide relaxes contracted lung blood vessels and improves blood flow to the lungs. It is given through the mechanical ventilator and can be an effective treatment for PPHN.
  • High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation (HFOV) – When other types of mechanical ventilation fail to achieve desired blood gas values, high frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) may be used to allow more blood to flow to the lungs and increase oxygen levels. HFOV improves oxygen delivery to the lungs, reduces acidosis (acid buildup in the blood), and often helps dilate (open) the blood vessels leading the lungs.
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) – When a newborn with severe PPHN does not respond to other treatments, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation treatment may be recommended. ECMO is a modified heart-lung bypass and requires surgery. It uses an artificial lung (membrane) outside the body (extracorporeal) to carry oxygen into the blood and to organs and tissues of the newborn. The ECMO machine acts as an artificial heart and lung for the infant for several days while the infant’s lungs heal and recover. Relatively few hospitals in the U.S. (mostly children’s hospitals) have the facilities to prove ECMO treatment to a newborn with PPHN.

We provide extensive resources to educate and benefit parents of newborn children affected by Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. We are committed to providing help and assistance to families coping with a PPHN diagnosis. To learn more about PPHN treatment options and your legal rights, please submit the contact form on this page or call us at 800-845-6913.