Abnormal neuroimaging and neurodevelopmental findings in a cohort of antenatally diagnosed congenital diaphragmatic hernia survivors

J Pediatr Surg. 2010 May;45(5):958-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.02.015.


Purpose: Prior studies have shown that survivors of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) repair may have long-term cardiac, pulmonary, and nutritional issues, as well as neurodevelopmental sequelae within the first 3 years of life. In this study, we examined the relationship between neuroimaging abnormalities and neurodevelopmental outcomes in a cohort of antenatally diagnosed CDH survivors.

Methods: Retrospective chart reviews were performed for CDH survivors born from January 2000 to December 2007 who were evaluated antenatally in the Advanced Fetal Care Center at Children's Hospital Boston (Mass). Prenatal and postnatal neuroimaging findings, clinical data, and neurodevelopmental findings were collected for a cohort of 45 patients who were evaluated by a developmental pediatrician at ages 1 and/or 3.

Results: Prenatal neuroimaging studies detected brain anomalies in this cohort with a false-negative rate of 7%. Of the 45 study participants, 87% had left-sided CDH, 22% had cardiac anomalies, and 18% had congenital malformations or genetic syndromes. Nearly all required ventilator management (98%) with a median ventilator time of 17 days (range, 3-56 days). Moreover, 24% required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. While 84% of patients had medical issues at discharge, 68% and 77% had medical issues at ages 1 and 3, respectively. Pulmonary problems were noted in 32% and 47% of the ages 1 and 3 cohorts, respectively. Motor problems were detected in 46% and 71% of the ages 1 and 3 cohorts, respectively. More patients with motor problems at age 1 had abnormal rather than normal postnatal neuroimaging studies (P = .01). Children with motor problems at age 1 were more apt to have an abnormal postnatal neuroimaging finding (odds ratio [OR], 6.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5-26.8; P = .01), pulmonary problems at age 1 (OR, 4.0; 95% CI, 0.99-16.6; P = .04), and a history of ventilatory management with a linear ventilator time (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.01-1.12; P = .03).

Conclusions: Prenatal neuroimaging can accurately image the brain of fetuses with CDH. Abnormal postnatal neuroimaging findings, the presence of pulmonary problems at age 1, and the length of ventilator time were predictors of motor problems at age 1. Ongoing follow-up of CDH survivors should include neurodevelopmental evaluations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Female
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / complications*
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / surgery
  • Hernias, Diaphragmatic, Congenital*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Psychomotor Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychomotor Disorders / etiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survivors
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal