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Diaphragmatic hernia repair - congenital

Definition

The diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity (where your heart and lungs are) from the belly area. A diaphragmatic hernia is an opening or tear in the diaphragm.

In a child born with a diaphragmatic hernia, the organs from the belly (stomach, spleen, liver, and intestines) may go up into the chest cavity where the lungs are. These organs take up the space, the lungs need to grow. The result is that the lungs are too small for your child to breathe on their own when they are born. Diaphragmatic hernia repair is surgery to correct this birth defect.

Description

Surgery is done while your child is under general anesthesia (asleep and not able to feel pain). The surgeon makes a surgical cut in the abdomen under the upper ribs to be able to reach the organs of the abdomen. Then the surgeon gently pulls these organs down into place through the opening in the diaphragm and into the abdominal cavity.

The surgeon repairs the hole in the diaphragm, and a plastic patch may be used to cover the hole in the diaphragm also. Stitches are used to close the surgical cut

After surgery, a tube from the chest will remain in place for a few days to allow air, blood, and fluid to drain from your child's abdomen. This gives the lungs room to expand.

Risks

Risks for any anesthesia include:

Risks for any surgery include:

Other possible complications of this surgery include:

  • Collapsed lung
  • Lung problems that do not go away

Review Date: 1/10/2009
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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