A diaphragmatic hernia occurs when a hole or tear forms in the muscle between the chest and abdomen, the diaphragm. As a result, abdominal organs can push up into the chest.
This kind of defect either develops when the diaphragm doesn't form correctly before birth or can result later in life after an injury.
In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment options for diaphragmatic hernias.
There are two types of diaphragmatic hernia:
Diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) happens when the diaphragm doesn't form properly before birth. This creates an opening in the diaphragm through which abdominal organs like the stomach, intestines, and liver can protrude.
It's not exactly known what causes CDH, but some experts think it's both genetic and environmental. Some studies have suggested that CDH may be caused by genetic mutations as well as by exposure to certain chemicals and toxins during pregnancy.
In contrast to congenital diaphragmatic hernia, ADH can develop at any age due to injury or trauma.
Injuries such as blunt force trauma to the chest or penetrating wounds in the abdomen can cause a tear of the diaphragm. Additionally, ADH can occur as a complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that weakens the diaphragm.
An individual with a diaphragmatic hernia may experience different symptoms based on the size, location, and age of the hernia.
Symptoms of a diaphragmatic hernia in infants include:
In adults, symptoms of a diaphragmatic hernia may include:
Like the other types of hernias, a diaphragmatic hernia is also diagnosed after a detailed physical examination. A doctor may listen to the patient's breathing with a stethoscope while looking for physical signs of a hernia, such as a bulge in the chest or abdomen.
The following tests may also be used to diagnose a diaphragmatic hernia:
There are some serious complications associated with a diaphragmatic hernia, such as bowel obstructions and strangulation. This is why prompt diagnosis and management are imperative. The doctor may also order additional tests to determine if other conditions may also be contributing to the symptoms of a diaphragmatic hernia.
A diaphragmatic hernia either congenital or acquired usually requires urgent surgery and the surgery options depend on its type and location.
Open surgery is one common surgical procedure for diaphragmatic hernias, in which the organs are returned to their proper positions and the opening in the diaphragm is closed. Hernias in this method are typically fixed through either a thoracotomy (opening of the chest) or laparotomy (opening of the abdomen).
An alternative surgical method used to repair hernias is laparoscopy, which uses small incisions and specialized instruments to repair hernias. Compared to traditional surgery, this approach is less invasive and offers quicker recovery times.
In some rare cases, it is also possible for the diaphragmatic hernia to not cause symptoms. If your doctor decides that surgery is not necessary at this time, he or she may suggest that you make lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding heavy lifting, and avoiding straining during bowel movements in order to reduce the risk of complications or symptoms.
It is recommended that you consult a professional to learn more about your situation or contact Hernia Innovations where we provide a variety of hernia treatment options. Contact us today for an appointment by sending us a message or calling us at (925) 940-1020.