Learning your child has a congenital diaphragmatic hernia can be scary. But at the Colorado Fetal Care Center, we help you have a healthy, safe delivery and dedicate ourselves to getting the best possible outcome for your family.
Diaphragmatic hernias are typically treated at and after birth. However, we may treat the most severe cases before birth if we think the lungs will be severely underdeveloped.
FETO: fetal surgery for congenital diaphragmatic hernia
The Colorado Fetal Care Center specializes in advanced fetal surgical techniques. For the most severe cases of CDH, our specialists may recommend fetoscopic endoluminal balloon tracheal occlusion (FETO), a minimally invasive fetal surgery to help a baby’s lungs grow. FETO is a fetal therapy and not every baby with CDH should have this procedure. At Children's Colorado, we are one of just a handful of approved FETO-trial sites in the United States.
With FETO, we help the lungs grow enough so the baby will be able to breathe successfully once they're born. Learn more about FETO therapy for severe CDH.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and breathing support
For severe cases of CDH, after-birth care may include the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that performs the function of the heart and lungs while they grow.
Level IV (four) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Our NICU on Anschutz Medical campus has earned the highest distinction (Level IV) and is a nationally recognized leader in treating critically ill infants. Our fully dedicated Labor and Delivery Unit is just down the hall from our NICU so you can deliver here and stay with your baby while we treat them.
CDH delivery options
Your fetal care team will recommend the best method of delivery for you. Each case is different, and your specific treatment plan will be designed to get you the best outcome. In some severe cases of CDH, a caesarean section (C-section) may be best.
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia repair
Our dedicated CDH team carefully plans the repair of your baby's CDH. When the time is right, our team will perform surgery to repair your child's diaphragm and allow their lungs to grow. Our experienced team of experts will make the right decision for your baby in coordination with you and your family.
Why choose Children's Colorado for CDH treatment?
The fetal care team at our Colorado Fetal Care Center is at the forefront of treatment for this condition. We have a dedicated labor and delivery unit for you to deliver here, so we can monitor and treat your baby in our NICU just steps away.
For severe cases of CDH, we provide the use of ECMO, which allows your baby's underdeveloped lungs to grow, as well as advanced treatments for pulmonary hypertension. We also continually participate in research so you and your baby have access to the newest, most advanced treatments.
Patients with CDH treated since 2012
CDH survival since 2012
Of patients delivered on-site in 2021
What are the complications of CDH?
The complications of a diaphragmatic hernia depend on the size and location of the opening. Pulmonary hypoplasia and pulmonary hypertension are two main concerns.
CDH and pulmonary hypoplasia
The most common CDH complication is pulmonary hypoplasia, or underdeveloped lungs. This condition results from the abdominal contents (bowel, stomach and liver) putting pressure on the lungs, preventing them from fully growing while the baby is still in the womb. Pulmonary hypoplasia can lead to a variety of issues after birth, including:
In some cases, the pulmonary hypoplasia can be significant enough to affect the survival of the newborn. That's why early detection and diagnosis of CDH are so important. By diagnosing CDH before birth, our CDH team has time to design the best delivery and treatment plan for your baby. Our Pulmonary Hypoplasia Clinic is the only multidisciplinary clinic in the Rocky Mountain region offering comprehensive care for infants and children with conditions that limit lung growth.
CDH and pulmonary hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lungs, is a disorder that occurs when the blood vessels lining the lungs (pulmonary arterioles and capillaries) are too narrow. This makes it hard for blood to flow through the lungs, raising the heart’s blood pressure and making it work harder than usual. This can potentially lead to heart failure.
Inhaled nitric oxide treatment
At Children's Colorado, we pioneered the use of inhaled nitric oxide to treat persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. This has now become the international standard of care. Our Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Program is one of just a few pediatric programs in the country accredited by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association for the ability to diagnose and care for medically complex patients.
Our fetal care team ensures that you will meet all our specialists at one time to map out your care plan. We care for your medical and emotional needs before, during and after your delivery and as your child grows.