Delayed presentation of congenital diaphragmatic hernia

A. Numanoglu*, Z. Steiner, A. Millar, S. Cywes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernias (CDH) usually present soon after birth with respiratory distress. Occasionally presentation is delayed. Twelve patients with delayed presentation (outside the neonatal period) of a total of 91 with CHD were seen over 17 years (1977-1994). Case records were reviewed to identify reasons for late presentation, evidence of morbidity, treatment and outcome. Age at presentation ranged from 6 weeks to 30 months (mean 8 months). Ten patients were aged 6 months or younger and there was an equal number of boys and girls. Seven cases were left-sided, 4 right-sided and 1 was anteriorly placed and bilateral. Ten patients presented acutely, 5 with small-bowel obstruction and 5 with respiratory distress, but all of the latter had a history of previous recurrent chest infection. Diagnosis was confirmed by radiographic examination of the chest in 10, barium meal in 1 and a 5-month-old patient had an inappropriate laparotomy and gastrojejunostomy for duodenal obstruction at an outlying hospital. Two had documented normal chest radiographs 3 and 6 months prior to diagnosis. Patients who presented with gastro-intestinal symptoms were older (mean age 1 year) compared with those with predominantly respiratory symptoms (mean age 19 weeks). None had any evidence of bowel strangulation. All were repaired via an abdominal approach. A hernial sac was found in half the cases (4/7 left and 2/5 right). Five had non-rotation of bowel. Primary repair without patch was carried out in all. One child with lung hypoplasia and multiple cardiac abnormalities died; the others recovered well. Delay in presentation of CDH is not uncommon (14% in this series). Most patients will have respiratory symptoms. A normal previous chest radiograph does not exclude the diagnosis. All patients with recurrent chest infection should have a contrast meal investigation early on. Long-term prognosis is favourable and postoperative morbidity is minimal, despite late presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-76
Number of pages3
JournalSouth African Journal of Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes


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