Diaphragmatic Hernia

(Hernia—Diaphragmatic; Congenital Hernia of the Diaphragm)


Diaphragmatic hernia is a congenital defect in which an opening is present in the diaphragm at birth. The diaphragm is the partition separating the chest and abdominal cavities. The abnormal opening allows some of the organs typically found in the abdomen to move into the chest cavity. In infants born with diaphragmatic hernia, the abdominal organs push up against the lungs. This prevents the lungs from developing normally.Diaphragmatic hernia is a serious condition with many potential complications and side effects.


Diaphragmatic hernia is caused by a failure of the diaphragm to completely fuse during fetal development.
Diaphragmatic Hernia—Stomach and Intestines Move into Chest Cavity
Herniated Diaphragm
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Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of diaphragmatic hernia include:
  • Chromosomal syndromes
  • Maternal alcohol use
  • Pregestational diabetes in the mother


Symptoms include:
  • Severe respiratory distress, including rapid breathing, grunting, use of accessory muscles, and bluish tint to the skin from lack of oxygen
  • Asymmetrical or increased diameter of the chest wall
  • Concave abdomen


Diagnosis is frequently made on prenatal ultrasound. If not found prior to birth, a physical exam will be done. A may be done to confirm the presence of abdominal organs in the chest cavity. Images may be taken of your child's bodily structures. This can be done with achest x-ray.

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