Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn

In treatment for PPHN, the main goal is to increase oxygen flow to the baby's organs to prevent serious health problems. Treatment may include a wide range of mechanical ventilation and respiratory therapy options such as:

  • Oxygen — 100 percent supplemental oxygen may be given to your baby through a mask or plastic hood.
  • Assisted ventilation — During this procedure, a tube is inserted into your baby's windpipe, a ventilator takes over your baby's breathing and oxygen is given.
  • Nitric oxide — Research has shown that this gas is effective in treating PPHN because it relaxes contracted lung blood vessels and improves blood flow to the lungs. It is given through the ventilator.
  • High frequency oscillatory ventilation — This type of ventilation may improve the oxygen level in the blood if other types of ventilation aren't effective.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

In addition, an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine may be used for babies who are experiencing serious heart or lung failure. The ECMO delivers oxygen to the brain and body as temporary support while the PPHN resolves. ECMO is similar to a heart-lung bypass machine, which takes over your baby's heart and lung functions with an external pump and oxygenator. Blood is drained from the baby to an artificial lung, where oxygen is added and carbon dioxide is removed, then the blood is pumped back into your child.

At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, we treat over 20 patients each year with ECMO and our success outcomes are among the highest in the country. Our team includes a neonatologist, surgeon, respiratory therapists and nurses with special training in the management of ECMO.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Critical Care

Intensive Care Nursery
1975 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1565
Fax: (415) 353-1202

LIFE Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 476-2538
Fax: (415) 476-2929