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Prenat Diagn. 1998 Nov;18(11):1138-42.

Fetal liver position and perinatal outcome for congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0570, USA.


Despite advances in postnatal care, patients born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) suffer substantial morbidity and mortality. The present study was undertaken to determine the prognostic influence of prenatally-diagnosed liver herniation in the hemithorax in fetuses with CDH. The medical records of 48 patients evaluated for a prenatally-diagnosed left CDH were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were analysed according to the position of the liver by prenatal ultrasound; 32 fetuses had a major portion of the liver herniated into the left hemithorax ('liver up') and 16 had an intra-abdominal liver ('liver down'). Liver position was determined using colour-flow Doppler ultrasonography. There were two fetal deaths in the liver-up group and one in the liver-down group. The liver-up group more frequently required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support (53 per cent) compared with the liver-down group (19 per cent). Postnatal survival was significantly less in the liver-up group (43 per cent) vs. the liver-down group (93 per cent). Fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia and liver herniated into the hemithorax have a much worse prognosis than similarly afflicted fetuses without liver herniation. Prenatal ultrasonographic diagnosis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia allows for preparation for a critically ill newborn and aids in prenatal family counselling.

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