Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy vol:29 issue:1 pages:6-17
Over half of the cases of congenital diaphragmatic hernia are picked up prenatally. Prenatal assessment aims to rule out associated anomalies and to make an individual prognosis. Prediction of outcome is based on measurements of lung size and vasculature as well as on liver herniation. A subset of fetuses likely to die in the postnatal period is eligible for a fetal intervention that can promote lung growth. Two randomized trials have shown that fetal surgery using open anatomical repair or tracheal occlusion via hysterostomy has no benefit. Since then, a percutaneous fetoscopic technique has been introduced, which has been shown to be safe and seems to improve survival when compared to historical controls. Rupture of the fetal membranes and early delivery, nevertheless, remain an issue, but are less likely as compared to earlier experience. Improved outcomes are confirmed in two other studies published in this issue of Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy. This paper summarizes the experimental and clinical history of fetal surgery for congenital diaphragmatic hernia. It stresses the need for another randomized trial. This trial started in Europe and patients should be asked whether they would like to participate.