Fetal MRI mediastinal shift angle and respiratory and cardiovascular pharmacological support in newborns with congenital diaphragmatic hernia

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In newborns with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), the mediastinal shift caused by the herniated organs negatively affects lung development. Assessment of the fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) mediastinal shift angle (MSA) was shown to have an inverse correlation with the total fetal lung volume (TFLV), being associated with neonatal survival. However, a possible association with postnatal morbidity has never been investigated. We hypothesize that the degree of the mediastinal shift could be associated with higher respiratory and cardiocirculatory impairment, requiring intensive treatments and extended hospitalization in survivors. We retrospectively consider a cohort of isolated, left-sided CDH, for whom we calculated the MSA and the observed/expected (O/E) TFLV at fetal MRI. We performed a data collection regarding inotropic or vasoactive support, treatment with pulmonary vasodilators, mechanical ventilation, and length of stay. General linear models were performed. The MSA and O/E TFLV were inversely correlated (Pearson’s coefficient − 0.65, p < 0.001), and deceased patients showed higher MSA values then survivors (p = 0.011). Among survivors, an increase in MSA was associated with longer pharmacological treatments (dobutamine: p = 0.016; dopamine: p = 0.049; hydrocortisone: p = 0.003; nitric oxide: p = 0.002; sildenafil: p = 0.039; milrinone: p = 0.039; oxygen: p = 0.066), and mechanical ventilation (p = 0.005), with an increasing trend in the length of hospitalization (p = 0.089). Conclusion: The MSA indirectly reflects lung hypoplasia and is associated with a higher neonatal intensity of cares. However, further studies are needed to consolidate the results. Trial registration: The study is an exploratory post hoc analysis of the registered NeoAPACHE protocol at ClinicalTrials.gov with the identifier NCT04396028. What is Known:• In congenital diaphragmatic hernia, the lung size, liver position, and defect side are the most common prenatal prognostic parameters used in clinical practice for morbidity and mortality prediction.• Lung hypoplasia, strictly associated with lung size, is estimated by observed/expected lung to head ratio and observed/expected total fetal lung volume with prenatal ultrasound and fetal magnetic resonance imaging, respectively.What is New:• A new, faster, more straightforward, and less operator-dependent tool to assess CDH severity could be the mediastinal shift angle calculation with fetal magnetic resonance imaging.• Postnatal clinical severity, considered as a postnatal cardiovascular and respiratory impairment that indirectly reflects lung hypoplasia, is associated with an increased mediastinal shift angle calculation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-334
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Fetal magnetic resonance imaging
  • Inotropes
  • Mediastinal shift angle
  • Pulmonary vasodilators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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