Long-term maturation of congenital diaphragmatic hernia treatment results: Toward development of a severity-specific treatment algorithm

Document Type



Paediatric Surgery


Objectives: To assess the impact of varying approaches to congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) repair timing on survival and need for ECMO when controlled for anatomic and physiologic disease severity in a large consecutive series of patients with CDH.
Background: Our publication of 60 consecutive patients with CDH in 1999 showed that survival was significantly improved by limiting lung inflation pressures and eliminating hyperventilation.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 268 consecutive patients with CDH, combining 208 new patients with the 60 previously reported. Management and ventilator strategy were highly consistent throughout. Varying approaches to surgical timing were applied as the series matured.
Results: Patients with anatomically less severe left liver-down CDH had significantly increased need for ECMO if repaired in the first 48 hours, whereas patients with more severe left liver-up CDH survived at a higher rate when repair was performed before ECMO. Overall survival of 268 patients was 78%. Survival was 88% for those without lethal associated anomalies. Of these, 99% of left liver-down CDH survived, 91% of right CDH survived, and 76% of left liver-up CDH survived.
Conclusions: This study shows that patients with anatomically less severe CDH benefit from delayed surgery whereas patients with anatomically more severe CDH may benefit from a more aggressive surgical approach. These findings show that patients respond differently across the CDH anatomic severity spectrum and lay the foundation for the development of risk-specific treatment protocols for patients with CDH.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Annals of Surgery