Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth operate the only long-term multidisciplinary follow-up clinic dedicated to Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) in the southwestern United States. Staffed by a team of CDH experts skilled at meeting each child’s specific needs, the clinic offers parents the convenience of seeing every involved specialist in a single visit under one roof. It also gives doctors the opportunity to collect data and better understand the challenges faced by families of children with CDH.
Long-term follow-up allows doctors to screen for, identify, and treat the complications of CDH before they become very serious problems. Thanks to modern medical treatment, children born with CDH are living longer, more productive lives.
At the clinic, affiliated pediatric surgeons, pulmonologists, pediatricians, nutritionists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, and developmental psychologists work together as a team to treat the complex disorders associated with CDH. They see patients in a single visit, according to a structured schedule that depends on their age, CDH classification (see below), and the severity of the disorder(s). Imaging scans are done in the morning, and patients see their specialists in the afternoon. This structure allows for the kind of team-based decision-making that can occur only when all doctors are on the same page, managing the needs of your child.
The CDH specialists follow children through the age of 18, when they are considered adults. The number of clinic visits necessary each year depends on the severity of the hernia, the age of the child, and any complications they have. Physicians and families work together to develop the best care plan, customized for each child’s individual needs.
Complications and long-term health effects from CDH depend greatly on the severity of the case. Following proper post-delivery care and CDH repair, some babies will mature normally and experience no life-long complications. On the other end of the spectrum, CDH does prove fatal in some instances despite the best efforts of parents and physicians. Most babies, though, will fall between these extremes and experience some long-term respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological or other health issues ranging from asthma to chronic lung disease to scoliosis. After discharge from the hospital, a team of pediatric specialists will continue to care for the baby.
Specialists at the High-risk multi-disciplinary Clinic for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia track a range of outcomes for all the patients they see. This allows the team to create a rich source of long-term data, learn more about the long-term challenges of CDH, and identify the best interventions for each child.
Doctors tie the data they collect to decisions about future research, enabling researchers to positively impact patient outcomes throughout the timeline of patient care.
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