Congenital diaphragmatic hernia: the hidden morbidity

J Pediatr Surg. 1994 Feb;29(2):258-62; discussion 262-4. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(94)90329-8.


It is often thought that survivors of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) have an isolated problem related to lung hypoplasia, and little data exist regarding the extrapulmonary problems of high-risk CDH patients who do survive. In 1990, the authors began a multidisciplinary follow-up clinic for CDH patients. Members of the program include representatives from the departments of surgery, pulmonary medicine, development, nursing, and nutrition. Since this program began, the authors have followed up on 33 infants who survived after treatment of high-risk CDH, ie, those who were symptomatic within 6 hours of birth. Twenty patients were treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Neurological problems were common in these patients: seven children (21%) required hearing aids, and seven others had abnormal results with brain-stem auditory evoked response (BAER) testing. Extraaxial fluid collections or enlarged ventricles were present on head computed tomography scans of 10 children, and four children had clinical seizure activity. Fifteen patients had developmental delays, which improved rapidly once the children began to thrive. Six patients required eyeglasses or had strabismus, and one patient is congenitally blind. There were a variety of problems related to growth and nutrition, with six patients needing fundoplications, and 13 patients below the fifth percentile for weight. Of 10 patients with patch repairs, two had recurrent hernias. Six others required surgery for bowel obstruction. Eleven patients had pectus excavatum, usually mild, and four had mild to moderate degrees of scoliosis. There were undescended testicles in five boys, vesicoureteral reflux in two patients, and kidney stones in two patients.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Electroencephalography
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / complications*
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / therapy
  • Hernias, Diaphragmatic, Congenital*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology