Objective: To assess the value of antenatally determined observed to expected fetal lung area to head circumference ratio (LHR) in the prediction of postnatal survival in isolated, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).
Methods: Two groups of fetuses were examined. The first group included 650 normal fetuses at 12-32 weeks' gestation, and the data collected were used to establish a normal range of observed to expected LHR with gestational age. The second group included the data of a retrospective multicenter study of 354 fetuses with isolated CDH in which the LHR was measured on one occasion at 18-38 weeks' gestation. The patients were divided into those with left-sided CDH with and without intrathoracic herniation of the liver and right-sided CDH. Regression analysis was used to determine the significant predictors of postnatal survival.
Results: In both the normal fetuses and those with CDH the LHR increased but the observed to expected LHR did not change significantly with gestational age. In normal fetuses the mean observed to expected LHR in the left lung was 100% (95% CI, 61-139%) and in the right lung it was 100% (95% CI, 67-133%). In fetuses with CDH the mean observed to expected LHR was 39% (range 7-79%). Regression analysis demonstrated that significant predictors of survival were the observed to expected LHR (odds ratio (OR) 1.09, 95% CI, 1.06-1.12), side of CDH (left side OR 11.14, 95% CI, 3.41-36.39) and gestational age at delivery (OR 1.18, 95% CI, 1.02-1.36).
Conclusion: In CDH, the LHR increases while observed to expected LHR is independent of gestational age. In fetuses with both left- and right-sided CDH, measurement of the observed to expected LHR provides a useful prediction of subsequent survival.