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Gastroenterologist and young girl smiling at each other

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Program

The Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for children born with CDH, a life-threatening abnormality. CDH occurs while the fetus is forming in the womb. The diaphragm muscle does not form completely, leaving an opening in the chest cavity. This allows the intestines to move up into the chest, impairing the function of the lungs, and, sometimes, the heart.

The CDH Program brings together a team of pediatric specialists, which include a pediatric surgeon, neonatologist, cardiologist with special expertise in pulmonary hypertension, pulmonologist, gastroenterologist, orthopedist, developmental pediatrician, and psychologist. Together we manage the care of children born with CDH throughout infancy and childhood.

Most babies with CDH are placed on a mechanical ventilator at birth. Some, with severe respiratory problems, need to be placed on temporary heart/lung bypass (called ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane life support). Once the baby is stable, surgery is performed to repair the diaphragm, and to move the stomach, intestines, and other abdominal organs back into the abdominal cavity. Some infants require additional operations to help with feeding or any other problems that might arise.