Conditions We Treat: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is a rare birth defect in which a hole in the diaphragm allows the intestines, stomach, liver and other abdominal organs to enter the chest, impairing normal lung development.

Illustration of baby with CDHA fetus with congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Click to enlarge.

CDH Treatment: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

  • We understand the urgency of a CDH diagnosis. The Center for Fetal Therapy is available to take your call at any time and will see you as soon as possible.
  • Our fetal surgeons are leading experts in fetoscopic endotracheal occlusion (FETO) surgeries in the U.S. This minimally invasive prenatal procedure can improve breathing in babies with severe CDH.
  • Babies treated for CDH at our center benefit from close to full-term births. Throughout the entire pregnancy, we continuously monitor your progress to prevent complications and ensure the best outcome for both you and your baby.
  • Our team developed standardized, holistic CDH treatment guidelines based on our extensive research and experience managing CDH. This protocol keeps our multidisciplinary teams aligned and helps us anticipate any potential complications throughout your care. 
  • Your child will receive coordinated, long-term care from Johns Hopkins' many advanced care specialties. Our experts in fetal surgery, neonatology, pediatrics and anesthesiology will counsel you on your treatment options and support your family from diagnosis through delivery and childhood care. 

Fetoscopic Treatment for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) | Natika's Story

Natika’s baby was diagnosed with a left side congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). The Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy team performed life-saving fetoscopic endotracheal occlusion in utero. Watch how the Johns Hopkins Hospital team ushered baby William to health from diagnosis and surgery to birth and after care.

CDH ultrasoundThis illustration shows how CDH is diagnosed through ultrasound measurements. Click to enlarge.

CDH Treatment: What to Expect

During your first appointment, you will meet with our multispecialty team who will perform a detailed evaluation to determine the condition's severity. Diagnostic procedures may include:

Following your initial consultation, we will review with you the test results and your treatment options. Then, we will work together to develop a care plan that works best for you and your baby. If you choose fetal surgery, our experts will perform fetoscopic endotracheal occlusion (FETO). The goal of this procedure is to support lung development throughout the pregnancy.  

After fetal surgery, we will continue to monitor your pregnancy closely. We will coordinate your delivery at Johns Hopkins with our pediatric and neonatology teams, which will be ready to provide any treatments, including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), that are needed to ensure safety and quality of life for your baby at birth.

After birth, our pediatric surgical team will perform early surgical repair using the most advanced approaches. Following surgery, our pediatric team will work with you to develop a long-term care management plan. 

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) | Q&A

Jena Miller, M.D., discusses congenital diaphragmatic hernia treatment and care provided by the Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy. She discusses how CDH is diagnosed, options for treatment and follow-up.

Our CDH Specialists

Fetal Therapy Group ShotDrs. Rosner, Baschat and Miller of the Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy.

Our multidisciplinary team includes fetal medicine specialists and surgeons, neonatologists, pediatric surgeons, nurses, genetic counselors and social workers who work together to ensure your child receives the full spectrum of CDH care and has the best quality of life possible.

Fetal Medicine and Surgery

Ahmet Baschat M.D.
Jena Miller M.D.
Mara Rosner M.D., M.P.H.

Pediatric Surgery

Shaun Michael Kunisaki, M.D., M.Sc.

ECMO Specialist

Melania Bembea M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.


Lawrence Nogee M.D.
Amaris Keiser M.D.

Our Featured Research

Johns Hopkins experts have been at the forefront of research into the benefits of fetoscopic tracheal occlusion (FETO) balloon surgery, an experimental technique used to improve lung function in babies with severe CDH. Our research includes:

Caring for You and Your Baby from Prenatal Diagnosis to Infancy

The diagnosis of a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) prior to delivery can be confusing and overwhelming. Learn about the Johns Hopkins Fetal Center and our family-centered approach to care from Ahmet Baschat, director of the Center for Fetal Therapy, pediatric surgeons Shaun Kunisaki and Alejandro Garcia and pediatric cardiologist Melanie Nies.