Diaphragmatic Hernia

Diaphragmatic Hernia: Understanding the Hole in the Muscle that Hinders Breathing

The Kopec Law Firm provides this webpage to help you understand diaphragmatic hernia. If you have experienced one as a result of misdiagnosis, then it may be medical malpractice. Consequently, you should contact the diaphragmatic hernia lawyer at the Kopec Law Firm to understand your rights.

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity, housing the lungs and heart, from the abdominal cavity, containing organs like the stomach and intestines. It plays a crucial role in respiration, contracting and relaxing to allow air in and out of the lungs. A diaphragmatic hernia occurs when a weakness or hole develops in the diaphragm, permitting abdominal organs to come through into the chest cavity. This can have significant implications for breathing and overall health.

Diaphragmatic Hernia sign. Diaphragmatic Hernia Lawyer
Diaphragmatic Hernia

There are two main types of diaphragmatic hernias:

  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH): This is a birth defect where the diaphragm fails to close completely during fetal development. Organs, most commonly the stomach and intestines, push through the opening into the chest, causing problems with lung development. The severity of CDH varies depending on the size of the hole and the degree of lung impairment.
  • Acquired Diaphragmatic Hernia: This type develops later in life, often caused by traumatic injuries like blunt force trauma to the chest or abdomen. Activities that cause a sudden increase in pressure within the abdomen, such as heavy lifting, can also rarely lead to an acquired hernia.

If you have been misdiagnosed concerning either one, you should contact the diaphragmatic hernia lawyer at the Kopec Law Firm for advice on your specific situation.

Symptoms and How It Affects the Body

An individual with a diaphragmatic hernia may experience a range of symptoms depending on the severity of the condition. Here is how it affects the body:

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH)

  • Newborn with respiratory distress: This is the most prominent symptom. The abdominal organs in the chest cavity crowd the lungs, limiting their space to expand and contract effectively. This leads to rapid breathing, labored breathing, and bluish discoloration of the skin due to lack of oxygen (cyanosis).
  • Feeding difficulties: Pressure on the stomach can make feeding challenging and lead to vomiting.
  • Undernourishment: Difficulty with feeding can lead to inadequate weight gain and malnutrition.

Acquired Diaphragmatic Hernia

The diaphragmatic hernia lawyer can evaluate your symptoms to assess the issue of misdiagnosis.


Doctors Involved

  • Pediatricians: For newborns suspected of having CDH.
  • Pulmonologists: Specialists in lung diseases who can assess breathing problems in both children and adults.
  • General or thoracic surgeons: These surgeons may perform diagnostic and surgery to repair the hernia.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Chest X-ray: An initial imaging test that can reveal the presence of abdominal organs in the chest cavity.
  • Fetal ultrasound: During pregnancy, an ultrasound can detect signs of CDH in the developing fetus.
  • Barium swallow: An X-ray taken while the patient drinks a barium solution, which coats the digestive tract and helps visualize any abnormalities in the diaphragm.
  • CT scan: A detailed computer tomography scan can provide a clearer picture of the size and location of the hernia.

The diaphragmatic hernia lawyer at the Kopec Law Firm can help determine if your diagnosis should have been made earlier.

Treatment and Potential Outcomes


The primary treatment for a diaphragmatic hernia is surgery to close the hole in the diaphragm and reposition the abdominal organs back into their proper place. The surgical approach varies depending on the severity of the condition. In newborns with CDH, minimally invasive surgery may be possible. For adults, laparoscopic surgery or open surgery through a larger cut might be required.

Potential Outcomes

  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia: With early diagnosis and surgery, the prognosis for most babies with CDH is good. However, lung development issues may persist in some cases, requiring ongoing respiratory support.
  • Acquired Diaphragmatic Hernia: Early repair of the hernia typically leads to a full recovery. However, if left untreated, bas outcomes like strangulation of the herniated organs (loss of blood supply) can occur, leading to serious health risks.

When you have a bad outcome form a diaphragmatic hernia, the diaphragmatic hernia lawyer will investigate your case.

The Importance of Proper Diagnosis

A misdiagnosed diaphragmatic hernia can have severe consequences. In a newborn baby with CDH, delayed diagnosis can lead to severe lung damage and respiratory failure. In adults, a missed hernia can result in strangulation of abdominal organs, which requires emergency surgery and carries a high risk of complications.

If you experience persistent respiratory difficulties, chest pain, or any of the symptoms mentioned above, then seeking medical attention promptly is crucial. Early diagnosis and treatment of a diaphragmatic hernia can significantly improve outcomes and ensure a better quality of life.

Contact the Diaphragmatic Hernia Lawyer

However, if there has been a delay in diagnosing your diaphragmatic hernia, contact the diaphragmatic hernia lawyer at the Kopec Law Firm. You then will speak directly with attorney Mark Kopec. He is a top-rated medical malpractice lawyer. Contact us at 800-604-0704 for your free consultation. The Kopec Law Firm is located in Baltimore and represents victims of medical malpractice throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C.

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