Effect of prenatal diaphragmatic hernia on pulmonary arterial morphology

Andrew V. Stainsby, Philip L.J. DeKoninck, Kelly J. Crossley, Alison Thiel, Megan J. Wallace, James T. Pearson, Aidan J. Kashyap, Michelle K. Croughan, Beth A. Allison, Ryan Hodges, Marta Thio, Andreas W. Flemmer, Erin V. McGillick, Arjan B. te Pas, Stuart B. Hooper, Marcus J. Kitchen

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Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is a major cause of severe lung hypoplasia and pulmonary hypertension in the newborn. While the pulmonary hypertension is thought to result from abnormal vascular development and arterial vasoreactivity, the anatomical changes in vascular development are unclear. We have examined the 3D structure of the pulmonary arterial tree in rabbits with a surgically induced diaphragmatic hernia (DH). Fetal rabbits (n = 6) had a left-sided DH created at gestational day 23 (GD23), delivered at GD30, and briefly ventilated; sham-operated litter mates (n = 5) acted as controls. At postmortem the pulmonary arteries were filled with a radio-opaque resin before the lungs were scanned using computed tomography (CT). The 3D reconstructed images were analyzed based on vascular branching hierarchy using the software Avizo 2020.2. DH significantly reduced median number of arteries (2,579 (8440) versus 576 (442), p =.017), artery numbers per arterial generation, mean total arterial volume (43.5 ± 8.4 vs. 19.9 ± 3.1 μl, p =.020) and mean total arterial cross-sectional area (82.5 ± 2.3 vs. 28.2 ± 6.2 mm2, p =.036). Mean arterial radius was increased in DH kittens between the eighth and sixth branching generation and mean arterial length between the sixth and 28th branching generation. A DH in kittens resulted in threefold reduction in pulmonary arterial cross-sectional area, primarily due to reduced arterial branching. Thus, the reduction in arterial cross-sectional area could be a major contributor to pulmonary hypertension infants with CDH.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalAnatomical Record
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • arterial development
  • computed tomography
  • congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • cross-sectional area
  • pulmonary arteries

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