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The late-presenting pediatric Bochdalek hernia: a 20-year review.

A 20-year retrospective study was made of children with congenital posterolateral (Bochdalek) hernias presenting more than 8 weeks after birth. The records of 26 patients (16 boys and 10 girls) were evaluated. Sixteen infants and children (62%) were originally misdiagnosed clinically and radiologically as having either infective lung changes, congenital lung cysts, or pneumothoraces; inappropriate thoracentesis occurred in four patients misdiagnosed as having a pneumothorax. Five patients had previously normal chest radiographs. The most useful investigation was a plain radiograph following passage of a nasogastric tube. Coexisting abnormalities (in particular, gut malfixation and malrotation) were common. All patients except one were operated on within days of presentation, and as emergencies if symptoms were acute. More than one third of our patients were left with a smaller than normal ipsilateral lung after their diaphragmatic hernia repair, and these lungs must be considered hypoplastic to some degree. Chest tubes made no difference in the lung's eventual expansion. Two deaths occurred as a result of acute cardiorespiratory arrest in previously well children. Therefore, the symptoms, signs, and radiologic findings of patients with diaphragmatic hernias presenting after the neonatal period may be difficult to interpret, and may result in diagnostic delay, misguided therapy, and a potentially fatal outcome.

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