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What does a raised diaphragm indicate?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Answered by: Dr Sai Praveen Haranath
Specialist in Pulmonary and Critical Care MedicineKaiser Permanente Medical Center/The Permanente Medical GroupWalnut Creek, CA 94596
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Q. My 42 years old wife's chest X-ray shows raised diaphragm on right side.

A.  The diaphragm levels are often different on each side but in a few conditions they may be due to disease. If there has been surgery causing damage to the nerve supply of the diaphragm it could be raised. Common surgery like neck or heart surgery can cause this. It would be important to know if the raised diaphragm is causing breathing difficulty. This can be tested by doing a complete pulmonary function test and also doing what is called a sniff test under ultrasound to see if the diaphragm moves. Sometimes a kind of xray called fluoroscopy of the diaphragm can also be done to see if it moves. Other causes include a partially collapsed lung, movement of abdominal organs upward through defects in the diaphragm and pleural fluid under the lung. As always this is general medical advice that you can share with your personal physician or lung specialist to help with your comprehensive medical care.

A.  The diaphragm levels are often different on each side but in a few conditions they may be due to disease. If there has been surgery causing damage to the nerve supply of the diaphragm it could be raised. Common surgery like neck or heart surgery can cause this. It would be important to know if the raised diaphragm is causing breathing difficulty. This can be tested by doing a complete pulmonary function test and also doing what is called a sniff test under ultrasound to see if the diaphragm moves. Sometimes a kind of xray called fluoroscopy of the diaphragm can also be done to see if it moves. Other causes include a partially collapsed lung, movement of abdominal organs upward through defects in the diaphragm and pleural fluid under the lung. As always this is general medical advice that you can share with your personal physician or lung specialist to help with your comprehensive medical care.

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