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Eisenmenger's complex (Victor Eisenmenger)

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A congenital, progressive cyanotic heart defect with an abnormal connection between system circulation and lung circulation. There is a ventricular septal defect, dextroposition of the aorta, pulmonary hypertension with pulmonary artery enlargement and hypertrophy of the right ventricle as well as a left-to-right shunt (ventricular, occasionally also atrial) reverted to right-to-left by pulmonary hypertension. Although several authoritative writers have described this congenital cardiac malformation as a syndrome, the term most used in cardiologic literature is Eisenmenger’s complex Both sexes equally affected. Exertional dyspnea. Delayed physical development; repeated pulmonary infections with occasional haemoptysis. Cough may be the dominant symptom in later life.

Eisenmenger in 1897 described the autopsy findings in a cyanotic person who ha died at the age 32 year with ventricle septum defect and overriding aorta. Since infancy the patient had suffered from cyanosis and difficulty in breathing during exertion. Lung histology showed arteriosclerosis of the pulmonary artery and haemorrhagic lung infarction due to arterial thromboses.

The term Eisenmenger's complex was introduced by Maud Elizabeth Seymour Abbott (1869-1949). It is now used to describe the clinical syndrome and pathophysiology resulting from reversal of any left to right shunt.


  • V. Eisenmenger:
    Die angeborenen Defecte der Kammerscheidewand des Herzens.
    Zeitschrift für klinische Medizin, 1897, 32 (Supplement): 1-28.
  • M. E. Abbott:
    Atlas of Congenital Heart Disease.
    New York, American Heart Association, 1936. Reprinted 1954.
    This classic work lists a classification of cardiac disease based on 1000 cases.

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