Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Diaphragmatic Hernia


William J. Cochran

, MD, Geisinger Clinic

Last full review/revision Apr 2021| Content last modified Apr 2021
Click here for the Professional Version
Topic Resources
  • This defect causes severe difficulty breathing.

  • The diagnosis is based on prenatal ultrasonography or a chest x-ray.

  • The infant is given oxygen, and surgery is done to close the defect.

After delivery, as the newborn cries and breathes, the loops of intestine quickly fill with air. This rapidly enlarging structure pushes against the heart, compressing the other lung and causing severe difficulty breathing, often right after birth. Also, if the lung had been compressed a lot before birth, the blood vessels in the lung become narrowed, which causes high blood pressure in the lung arteries (persistent pulmonary hypertension Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a serious disorder in which the arteries to the lungs remain narrowed (constricted) after delivery, thus limiting the amount of blood flow... read more ). The high blood pressure does not let enough blood flow through the lungs, which limits the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. Persistent pulmonary hypertension is the major cause of death among infants who are born with diaphragmatic hernia.

Diagnosis of Diaphragmatic Hernia

  • Before birth, prenatal ultrasonography

  • After birth, a chest x-ray

Treatment of Diaphragmatic Hernia

  • Oxygen

  • Surgery

Surgery is required to repair the diaphragm.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read
Test your knowledge
Preventive Health Care Visits in Infants
Frequent doctor visits are recommended for all infants younger than 1 year of age. These visits, also called well-child visits, make it possible to check development, look for health problems, provide age-appropriate vaccinations, and educate parents. Which of the following is a condition that might affect some infants born very prematurely, with less than 32 weeks of development in the uterus?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID