Purpose: The aim of this study is to determine if there has been a true, absolute, or apparent relative increase in congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) survival for the last 2 decades.
Method: All neonatal Bochdalek CDH patients admitted to an Ontario pediatric surgical hospital during the period when significant improvements in CDH survival was reported (from January 1, 1992, to December 31, 1999) were analyzed. Patient characteristics were assessed for CDH population homogeneity and differences between institutional and vital statistics-based population survival outcomes. SAS 9.1 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC) was used for analysis.
Result: Of 198 cohorts, demographic parameters including birth weight, gestational age, Apgar scores, sex, and associated congenital anomalies did not change significantly. Preoperative survival was 149 (75.2%) of 198, whereas postoperative survival was 133 (89.3%) of 149, and overall institutional survival was 133 (67.2%) of 198. Comparison of institution and population-based mortality (n = 65 vs 96) during the period yielded 32% of CDH deaths unaccounted for by institutions. Yearly analysis of hidden mortality consistently showed a significantly lower mortality in institution-based reporting than population.
Conclusion: A hidden mortality exists for institutionally reported CDH survival rates. Careful interpretation of research findings and more comprehensive population-based tools are needed for reliable counseling and evaluation of current and future treatments.