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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Nov;183(5):1059-66.

Treatment of severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia by fetal tracheal occlusion: clinical experience with fifteen cases.

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  • 1Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Departments of Surgery and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, USA.



Our purpose was to determine whether prenatal tracheal occlusion improves survival in a selected population of fetuses affected by severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia.


Fetuses with isolated congenital diaphragmatic hernia were selected as candidates for fetal intervention by specific criteria designed to predict a 90% mortality rate with conventional postnatal treatment.


Fifteen fetuses underwent tracheal occlusion with 5 survivors (33%). Two fetuses were lost to early preterm labor. In 13 mothers, postoperative gestation ranged from 19 to 68 days, with a mean duration of pregnancy after tracheal occlusion of 38 days. The 5 survivors were hospitalized for an average of 76 days. Despite dramatic lung growth in some fetuses after tracheal occlusion, intensive management was required, and most deaths were caused by respiratory insufficiency.


Prenatal tracheal occlusion can result in impressive lung growth in a subset of fetuses with severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia. However, survival remains compromised by pulmonary functional abnormality and the consequences of prematurity.

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