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Diaphragmatic Hernia

By

William J. Cochran

, MD, Geisinger Clinic

Last full review/revision Apr 2021| Content last modified Apr 2021
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Topic Resources
  • This defect causes severe difficulty breathing.

  • The diagnosis is based on prenatal ultrasonography or a chest x-ray.

  • The infant is given oxygen, and surgery is done to close the defect.

After delivery, as the newborn cries and breathes, the loops of intestine quickly fill with air. This rapidly enlarging structure pushes against the heart, compressing the other lung and causing severe difficulty breathing, often right after birth. Also, if the lung had been compressed a lot before birth, the blood vessels in the lung become narrowed, which causes high blood pressure in the lung arteries (persistent pulmonary hypertension Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a serious disorder in which the arteries to the lungs remain narrowed (constricted) after delivery, thus limiting the amount of blood flow... read more ). The high blood pressure does not let enough blood flow through the lungs, which limits the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. Persistent pulmonary hypertension is the major cause of death among infants who are born with diaphragmatic hernia.

Diagnosis of Diaphragmatic Hernia

  • Before birth, prenatal ultrasonography

  • After birth, a chest x-ray

Treatment of Diaphragmatic Hernia

  • Oxygen

  • Surgery

Surgery is required to repair the diaphragm.

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