Impact of Objective Echocardiographic Criteria for Timing of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Repair

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To assess the impact of specific echocardiographic criteria for timing of congenital diaphragmatic hernia repair on the incidence of acute postoperative clinical decompensation from pulmonary hypertensive crisis and/or acute respiratory decompensation, with secondary outcomes including survival to discharge, duration of ventilator support, and length of hospitalization.

Study design

The multidisciplinary congenital diaphragmatic hernia management team instituted a protocol in 2012 requiring the specific criterion of echocardiogram-estimated pulmonary artery pressure ≤80% systemic blood pressure before repairing congenital diaphragmatic hernias. A retrospective review of 77 neonatal patients with Bochdalek hernias repaired between 2008 and 2015 were reviewed: group 1 included patients repaired before protocol implementation (n = 25) and group 2 included patients repaired after implementation (n = 52).


The groups had similar baseline characteristics. Postoperative decompensation occurred less often in group 2 compared with group 1 (17% vs 48%, P = .01). Adjusted analysis accounting for repair type, liver herniation, and prematurity yielded similar results (15% vs 37%, P = .04). Group 2 displayed a trend toward improved survival to 30 days postoperatively, though this did not reach statistical significance (94% vs 80%, P = .06). Patient survival to discharge, duration of ventilator support, and length of hospitalization were not different between groups.


The implementation of a protocol requiring echocardiogram-estimated pulmonary arterial pressure ≤80% of systemic pressure before congenital diaphragmatic hernia repair may reduce the incidence of acute postoperative decompensation, although there was no difference in longer-term secondary outcomes, including survival to discharge.

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