Elevated hemidiaphragm is a condition in which half of a patient's diaphragm appears to be raised or elevated. It can be seen on a medical imaging study or upon surgical examination, and it is an indicator of a serious health problem. The treatment for elevated hemidiaphragm varies, depending on what is causing the situation, and may require input from several medical specialists who can combine forces to develop the most appropriate and effective treatment.
The diaphragm is a tough layer of tissue which plays a role in respiration and separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. The tissue is designed to move with respiration to accommodate the expansion and contraction of the chest which occurs when people breathe in and out. Problems with the diaphragm can inhibit respiration and cause other medical issues for patients.
There are three possible reasons for half of the diaphragm to appear raised or elevated: something wrong with the diaphragm itself, something going on in the abdomen which is pushing this tough sheet of tissue up into the chest, or something occurring above the level of the diaphragm which is causing the diaphragm to float upwards.
One reason for elevated hemidiaphragm may be that half the diaphragm has been paralyzed by nerve damage. Another reason is cancer; if a cancer intrudes into the diaphragm, it can be pulled out of position. Patients with lung cancer are at particular risk of this, as the lungs are close to the diaphragm and it is easy for the cancer cells to make the leap to the diaphragm.
Raised or elevated hemidiaphragm can also be caused by a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, a tumor, a surgical complication, or a cyst below the diaphragm. Causes from above can include the collapse of a lung or broken ribs, which destabilize the structure of the rib cage and may pull the diaphragm out of position.
When a patient presents with elevated hemidiaphragm, the first step is figuring out why the condition is occurring, while keeping the patient comfortable if discomfort is being experienced. Medical imaging, patient interviews, and other diagnostic techniques can be used to learn more about the situation. Once a cause is identified, it can be treated, and in the process the elevated hemidiaphragm should be resolved as well. Treatment options can include surgery to drain cysts or remove tumors, chemotherapy to shrink cancers, and so forth.