Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has a national reputation for providing the most advanced care available for babies with congenital diaphragmatic hernias. (CDH) Our multidisciplinary team of physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, dietitians, chaplains, and social workers have cared for more than 275 CDH patients. Our survival rates meet or, in some cases, exceed national statistics.
CDH children have a hole in their diaphragm allowing the intestines and other abdominal organ to enter the chest and compress the lungs and heart. (More on CDH)
Parents of a child with a CDH diagnosis may be faced with difficult decisions at many points in time--before, during, and after delivery. Unfortunately, there is no proven and universally accepted method of determining the amount of support your baby will require after birth. Interpreting information you find while researching this problem can be difficult as well. It is best to discuss your research and the specifics of your case with a physician who regularly treats babies with CDH.
Children’s offers prenatal counseling for families anticipating the birth of a baby with CDH. Based on scientific data and knowledge gained from your prenatal evaluations, a neonatologist will discuss your baby’s anticipated medical needs with you. Accurate and detailed counseling is provided to enable you to make informed decisions about your child’s care. You will tour the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and get educational materials about the care of babies with CDH as well as information about ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation).
Successful treatment of babies with CDH requires a complete understanding of the problems in the lungs, pulmonary blood vessels, and sometimes the heart. Nationally, it is recognized that babies with CDH are best delivered at centers that offer a standardized approach to care, personnel with extensive experience, and the technologies most often used in the treatment of CDH.
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics offers state of the art care, including:
- Neonatal critical care using gentle ventilation strategies to protect fragile underdeveloped lungs, including high-frequency ventilation
- A delay in corrective surgery until sick newborns recover from the initial stress of birth before facing the stress of surgery
- Pediatric surgical expertise in repairing CDH
- Inhaled nitric oxide
- ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a heart-lung bypass procedure to support the most profoundly ill children.
Babies with CDH often are very ill from the moment their umbilical cord is clamped and they become dependent on their own lungs and pulmonary blood vessels. A neonatal physician and neonatal transport team experienced in the immediate resuscitation and stabilization of critically ill babies attend all CDH births. From the delivery room, your child will be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to be cared for by an in-house neonatal physician and our multidisciplinary team 24 hours per day. Pediatric surgeons, with a combined experience of more than 125 years, will also care for your child. Together with the neonatologist they will determine the timing of surgery to repair the diaphragmatic defect.
A wide range of additional services and medical specialists are available at Children’s to meet all the needs of your family. Experienced perinatologists will care for you during the remainder of your pregnancy. Others include on-site lactation consultants, child life services, a sibling play area, the family resource center, Caring bridge—a way to stay connected with family and friends via the Internet, neurodevelopmental services including a follow up clinic, discharge planners and, if necessary, home care services.