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Indeed, the treatment approach for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) is highly individualized, taking into account several factors, including the size of the hernia, the timing of diagnosis, maternal health, any secondary medical issues, and the presence of genetic defects.

In cases where CDH is detected prenatally, medical teams may plan for immediate interventions following the baby’s birth. For larger diaphragmatic defects or when there is significant compression of the lungs, early surgical repair is often necessary to reposition the abdominal organs into the abdomen and close the diaphragmatic hole. This procedure aims to alleviate lung compression and promote proper lung development. Depending on the severity of the condition, the surgery may be performed shortly after birth or within the first few days of life.

For some CDH cases, particularly milder ones, medical management without immediate surgical intervention may be appropriate. Supportive care, including assisted ventilation and oxygen therapy, may be provided to help the baby breathe more comfortably and support lung function.

The recovery process following surgical repair can vary based on the complexity of the hernia and the baby’s overall health. Babies with CDH may require ongoing medical care, monitoring, and specialized support during their early months or years of life. Some children may experience long-term respiratory challenges or other medical issues, which may necessitate ongoing medical management and follow-up care.

As mentioned earlier, the CDH Parent Reference Guide provides in-depth information about the repair and recovery process, offering valuable insights and guidance for families navigating their journey with CDH. This comprehensive resource, compiled with input from experts and the CDH community, serves as a reliable source of information and support for parents of babies diagnosed with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.


These are some of the treatment options available for managing Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) in utero or after birth. Each approach is tailored to the individual case and its specific needs:

  1. FETO (Fetoscopic Endoluminal Tracheal Occlusion): A balloon is inserted into the unborn baby’s airway to block it temporarily. This helps increase the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus, which promotes lung growth. After a few weeks, the balloon is removed to allow the baby’s lungs to mature further.

  2. Tracheal Ligation/Occlusion: This in-utero procedure involves clamping off the baby’s trachea, encouraging lung growth and pushing the abdominal organs back into their proper position.

  3. ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation): A sophisticated life support machine that temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs. It circulates the patient’s blood outside the body, oxygenates it, and then returns it.

  4. EXIT to ECMO: A procedure where the baby is placed on ECMO immediately after birth, before the baby takes a breath independently. The umbilical cord is used for cannulation, avoiding more invasive methods.

  5. Nitric Oxide: An inhaled gas used to help the lungs expand. It is often administered before considering ECMO.

  6. Mechanical Ventilator: A machine that supports the baby’s breathing by delivering warm air and oxygen into the lungs through an endotracheal tube.

  7. HFV (High-Frequency Ventilator): A machine that delivers many small breaths per minute, typically used in specialized cases.

  8. Artificial Placenta: An experimental procedure where the baby is taken out of the uterus in the second trimester, the hernia is repaired, and the baby is placed in an artificial womb for the remainder of gestation. As of early 2019, human trials were not available.

It is essential to note that the choice of treatment depends on the specific circumstances of each CDH case, and the medical team will determine the most suitable approach to optimize the baby’s chances of survival and healthy development. These procedures represent significant advancements in medical technology and are part of ongoing research to improve outcomes for babies diagnosed with CDH.


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