The diaphragm is the muscle between the chest and abdomen that helps you breathe. It is the most important muscle for breathing. It separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. As with any organ or muscle, the diaphragm is subject to disorders and abnormalities, which come in many different forms and can stem from injury or illness.
The common disorders are :
Eventration and Paralysis of the Diaphragm: Eventration is congenital in nature and due to incomplete muscularisation of the diaphragm with a thin membranous sheet replacing normal diaphragmatic muscle. Over time this region stretches and does not contract normally. Paralysis can occur after surgery in the neck and chest or from medical illnesses.
In both cases, the lower lobe of the lung collapses and causes shortness of breath and exercise intolerance or infection in the collapsed lung. Both conditions can be repaired with relief of symptoms using VATS, Robotic or open surgery with excellent relief of symptoms
Diaphragmatic Hernias: These can be present since birth or occur after trauma eg a road traffic accident. There is a defect in the diaphragm and this causes the abdominal organs to move into the chest causing severe shortness of breath and other life threatening problems like twisting of the gut or stomach.
Both congenital and acquired diaphragmatic hernias are surgical emergencies. Surgery must be performed to remove the abdominal organs from the chest and place them back into the abdomen. The surgeon will then repair the diaphragm.
The condition is completely curable and can be done by Open, Laparoscopic, Thoracoscopic (VATS) or Robotic Surgery.