Diagnosis of Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation

A routine prenatal (pregnancy) ultrasound will show unusual tissue in your baby’s lung tissue before the baby is born. If your OB/GYN thinks your baby has CPAM, you may need the following prenatal tests:

  • Fetal echocardiogram (ECG). This test for your unborn baby uses sound waves to determine if the CPAM affects their heart structure or function.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your baby’s lungs and determine the abnormal lung tissue’s exact location.
  • Weekly ultrasound tests. You may need weekly ultrasound tests to see if your baby’s CPAM changes in size or shape during pregnancy.

During your pregnancy, the extra lung tissue may grow, shrink or remain the same size. If your baby’s CPAM grows, your doctor will need to closely monitor the condition and related complications (such as chronic lung disease).

Treatments for Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation

If your baby has a CPAM, your OB/GYN may recommend one or more of the following prenatal (before birth) treatments:

  • Early delivery. Your doctor may recommend delivering your baby early to avoid further complications.
  • Steroid treatment. Steroid treatment may help shrink the CPAM.
  • Thoracentesis. For large CPAMs filled with fluid, your doctor may recommend thoracentesis, a procedure to drain the fluid. Your doctor uses ultrasound guidance for this procedure. Your doctor inserts a small needle through the uterus and into the chest of your baby. The doctor drains the excess fluid from the baby’s chest.

In many cases, doctors can treat your baby for CPAM after birth using a lobectomy surgery. This procedure removes the lobe (section) of the lung that contains the abnormal tissue through an incision in the chest. If your baby has breathing issues due to the CPAM, they will generally need surgery soon after birth. If the CPAM is smaller and doesn’t affect your baby’s breathing, the doctor may delay surgery until your baby is about one year old.

Prior to planning surgery, your child will have a computerized (CT) angiogram of the chest. This test uses intravenous (IV) contrast to take detailed images of the inside of the chest and to better identify the lung lesion.

If the lobectomy is performed soon after birth, your baby will likely spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) so they can be monitored. During surgery, your baby will be under general anesthesia (fully asleep). Your baby’s surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your baby’s chest to remove the extra lung tissue. The cut will then be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage until it heals. Your baby will typically stay in the hospital for two to three days following the surgery for close monitoring.

Babies who undergo this surgery may need to be on a ventilator (breathing machine). Or they might need a heart-lung bypass machine to temporarily take over heart and lung function to allow those organs to rest and heal.

Once your baby recovers from the surgery and if he or she has no other health conditions, your baby will likely go on to be healthy and have no further complications. If your baby has other related health conditions, such as chronic lung disease, he or she will need ongoing monitoring and care.

Request an Appointment

Contact an Orlando Health doctor

If your developing baby is diagnosed with a congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM), make an appointment with an Orlando Health high-risk pregnancy doctor today, so your child can start on the road to improved health.