PURPOSE: With increasing number of high mountain hikers high altitude pulmonary edema might become a more common problem. Besides heredetetary factors, 10% of the normal population are considered to develop PA under hypoxemia. The purpose of the study was to investigate wheher these persons are also at risk to develop HAPE.
METHODS: 23 persons climbed the Margherita hut in the Swiss Alps (elev. 4559m)within 24h and stayed there for appr. 48h. Besides examination by x-ray, echo-cardiography, spirometry, blood gas analysis and pulse oximetry we investigated vibration response imaging (VRI), a computer-based non-invasive, radiation free device that provides dynamic images of the lungs and quantitative data by recording vibrations from the chest wall, using 40 piezoelectric acoustic sensors, and converts the signals toa dynamic grey scale image of the lung.
RESULTS: At sea level 3/23 persons showed slight changes in the dynamic and static properties of the VRI that developed in the majority under high altitude. During the stay these alterations improved in a greater number of persons, but persisted or even worsened in some. This was in contrast to the other parameters that showed much less pathological changes. Exact statistical evaluation is currently performed.
CONCLUSION: Whether the differences in changes are due to a higher sensitivity of the VRI to detect fluid collections in the lung and ”broonchial cuffing“ has to be seen during further analysis of the data.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: If proved to be highly sensitive for detection of fluid collection within the lung, VRI could also become a non-invasive, radiation free bed side method for managing cardicac failure.
DISCLOSURE: Heinrich Becker, None.