COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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The price of success in the management of congenital diaphragmatic hernia: is improved survival accompanied by an increase in long-term morbidity?

BACKGROUND: The impact of "gentle ventilation" (GV) strategies on morbidity and mortality of patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) in our institution has not been determined. This study reviews the primary and secondary outcomes of our patients with CDH treated with the GV approach.

METHOD: We performed a retrospective chart review of respiratory, neurologic, nutritional, and musculoskeletal morbidities in patients with CDH treated at a single institution between 1985 and 1989 with conventional ventilation (CV) compared with those treated from 1996 to 2000 with GV.

RESULTS: There were 77 CV-treated and 66 GV-treated patients with CDH, with 51% survival in the CV cohort compared with 80% in the GV group (chi(2), P < .05). At 3-year follow-up, we found no statistically significant differences in the frequency of respiratory (38% of CV patients, 50% of GV patients), neurologic (29% of CV patients, 34% of GV patients), or musculoskeletal morbidity (46% of CV vs 29% of GV-treated patients). There was a difference in nutritional morbidity as indicated by the increased frequency of gastrostomy tube use in the GV-treated patients (34%) compared with the CV patients (8%; chi2, P < .05).

CONCLUSION: The implementation of GV techniques has significantly decreased mortality in infants with CDH. This has been associated with a documented increase in nutritional morbidity among survivors.

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