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Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernias -- Diagnosis, Surgery and Recovery


Updated February 12, 2011

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Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (Bochadalek Hernia)?
Diaphragmatic Hernia Image Surgery

Diaphragmatic Hernia Image

Image: © ADAM

What is a Congenital Diaphragmatic or Bochadalek Hernia?

A congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or Bochdalek hernia, happens in the womb and is diagnosed during pregnancy or in a newborn. It occurs when there is a weakness in the diaphragm, the muscle that divides the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. In addition to separating the organs of chest from the organs of the abdomen, the diaphragm also helps the lungs fill with oxygen. (The movement of the stomach area that you see when you breathe is the movement of the diaphragm.)

A severe diaphragmatic hernia can allow an entire organ or organs to slip in to the chest, through the hole or defect. In most cases, a diaphragmatic hernia is an emergency, requiring immediate surgical treatment. This is because the heart and lungs have difficulty filling and providing the body with oxygen because of the crowding of the chest cavity. A newborn with this type of hernia may have lips that appear bluish, due to a lack of oxygen.

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