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The spectrum of Cantrell's syndrome


Eight patients representing the entire spectrum of Cantrell's syndrome are presented. While a combined diaphragmatic and pericardial defect is an essential feature of the syndrome, other manifestations form a continuum ranging from innocent upper abdominal midline defects to the full-blown pentalogy sometimes incompatible with life. In only two cases was the diagnosis established preoperatively. One patient presented uniquely with bilateral chylothoraces. Clinical suspicion, plain chest roentgenograms, and ultrasonography proved the most definitive diagnostic aids. Two patients died early due to their severe cardiac malformations. Six children are alive 16 months to 23 years postoperatively. Seven patients underwent operative correction of their defects. A primary repair of the abdominal and diaphragmatic lesions was performed trans-abdominally or via a sternotomy in all but one case. Two patients had late repairs of their intracardiac defects. Although rare, Cantrell's syndrome must be actively sought in every patient with an omphalocele or an atypical diaphragmatic hernia. These patients need a full cardiac evaluation before operation. The Diaphragmatic defect must be recognized and repaired before closure of the omphalocele. The prognosis depends mainly on the cardiac lesion.

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Vanamo, K., Sairanen, H. & Louhimo, I. The spectrum of Cantrell's syndrome. Pediatr Surg Int 6, 429–433 (1991).

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Key words

  • Diaphragmatic hernia
  • Omphalocele
  • Pentalogy of Cantrell