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J Pediatr Surg. 2003 Jan;38(1):17-20; discussion 17-20.

Early perfluorodecalin lung distension in infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

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Department of Surgical Paediatrics, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill NHS Trust, Glasgow, Scotland.



Pulmonary hypoplasia contributes to mortality in infants with severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). Accelerated postnatal lung growth with perfluorocarbon lung distension has been demonstrated in animals. The authors present a study measuring perfluorodecalin distension in neonates with severe CDH on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support.


Six consecutive neonates with CDH requiring ECMO support were recruited. The lungs were filled with perfluorodecalin, and continuous positive airway pressure was applied for 6 to 10 days (mean, 7.7 days +/- 0.7). The perfluorodecalin was exchanged 4 times a day. Radiographic lung projections were measured, and from 2-dimensional measurements an estimated lung volume was calculated using the ECMO cannula as reference.


Perfluorodecalin instillation started soon after starting ECMO support (mean, 13.5 +/- 5.3 hours). The volume required to fill the lungs increased significantly (P <.02). The radiographic dimension of the affected lung increased significantly (mean percentage increase, 272%; P <.02). The contralateral lung dimension also increased (mean percentage increase 51%; P <.02). CDH repair was undertaken on ECMO in all cases. All patients survived (follow-up, 3 to 42 months).


This protocol of early perfluorodecalin lung distension in infants with severe CDH on ECMO support resulted in significant radiographic lung enlargement. Clinical outcomes are encouraging. Possible mechanisms include alveolar recruitment, alveolar dilatation, and accelerated postnatal lung growth.

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