Three-dimensional ultrasonographic assessment of fetal lung volume as prognostic factor in isolated congenital diaphragmatic hernia


* Correspondence: Professor M. Dommergues, Maternité, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, 149 rue de Sèvres, 75743 Paris Cedex 15, France.


Objective  To evaluate the potential of three-dimensional ultrasound to predict outcome in congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Design  Prospective observational study.

Setting  Tertiary care centre.

Population  Twelve cases of isolated congenital diaphragmatic hernia (11 left-sided, 1 right-sided) and 109 controls.

Methods  Fetal lung volume was assessed by three-dimensional ultrasound using the technique of rotation of the multiplanar imaging. In the control fetuses, a logistic transformation was performed to correlate fetal lung volume with gestational age, and the confidence interval was obtained with a bootstrap resampling. A mathematical equation was then obtained allowing calculation of the expected fetal lung volume as a function of gestational age. In fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, the observed/expected lung volume ratio was compared with postnatal outcome.

Main outcome measures  Neonatal mortality and pulmonary hypoplasia, which was defined as lung/body weight ratios less than 0.012.

Results  The expected fetal lung volume was derived from the mathematical equation: Fetal lung volume (mL) = exp (4.72/(1 + exp ((20.32 − gestational age in weeks)/6.05))). The observed/expected fetal lung volume ratio was significantly lower in the congenital diaphragmatic hernia group (median: 0.34, range: 0.16–0.66), than in the control group (median: 1.02, range: 0.62–1.97, P < 0.0001). The distribution of this ratio was significantly downshifted in the infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia who died (median: 0.19, range: 0.18–0.66) compared with survivors (median: 0.44, range: 0.36–0.66, P= 0.04). The observed/expected fetal lung volume ratio was also correlated with the postmortem lung/body weight ratio.

Conclusion  In isolated congenital diaphragmatic hernia, fetal lung volume measurement by three-dimensional ultrasound is a potential predictor for pulmonary hypoplasia and postnatal outcome.