Diaphragm Trauma

Information About Diaphragm Trauma

Diaphragm TraumaDiaphragmatic trauma typically results from penetrating or blunt trauma, with 80 to 90% of blunt diaphragmatic ruptures are due to car accidents. Lateral impact from a motor vehicle crash can sometimes distort the chest wall and cut the ipsilateral diaphragm. The incidence of diaphragmatic injury in blunt trauma increases in accordance with the occurrence of high-speed car accidents.

In general, most diaphragmatic injuries occur on the left side of the chest, possibly due to the presence of the liver on the right side. In a motor vehicle accident, the direction of the impact determines whether and where an injury occurs. For example, drivers more frequently experience left-sided injuries, while passengers more frequently experience right-sided injuries. A right-sided rupture is typically associated with increased severity and morbidity rates.

Blunt diaphragmatic ruptures usually result in the following associated injuries:

Diagnosis and Treatment

While blunt trauma typically leads to larger radial tears, penetrating trauma causes smaller incisions. Typically, a standard chest radiography (x-ray) is the primary screening method for patients suffering from thoracoabdominal trauma. CT scan features for diaphragmatic ruptures are also used, and typically feature a thickening of the diaphragm, discontinuity, herniation of abdominal structures, and the collar sign (focal constriction of abdominal viscera at the site of herniation). Although MRIs permit good visualization of abnormalities, they can be difficult to rely on in an emergency.

Diaphragmatic injuries are repaired by restoring the abdomen to its original orientation (by bringing the abdominal contents back inside the abdomen) and/or creating a seal between the chest and abdominal cavity during an exploratory laparotomy. If the diaphragmatic injury is not repaired correctly, a patient is at risk of obstruction, strangulation, and other life-threatening medical conditions.

Unfortunately, diaphragmatic ruptures can be overlooked when major symptoms are associated with other injuries that sometimes accompany diaphragmatic trauma, such as heart injuries, bruising or lacerations of the lungs, pelvic fractures, and others. If this occurs and the abdominal contents drift upwards towards the chest cavity, late diaphragmatic hernia repair may be necessary. Complications can include liver abscess, pus filling the lung space, multi-system failure, gastrointestinal obstruction, pneumonia, sepsis, and related issues.

Traumatic diaphragmatic injuries can also be missed due to delayed development, making an accurate diagnosis difficult for trauma surgeons. An emergency laparotomy is standard for detecting and repairing these injuries.

Our Experienced Massachusetts Injury Attorneys are Here to Help You.  Free consultation. No obligation. No fee unless we recover for you.

The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan have provided protection and legal representation to clients in Boston and surrounding areas of Massachusetts for years, achieving countless settlements and jury verdicts for accident victims. Learn more information about our services; get in touch with us today.

For your free, no-obligation case review and consultation call our law firm today at (508) 588-0422 and you will have taken your first step towards getting fair compensation for your injuries or for the loss of a loved one. You can also click here to use our Free Case Evaluation Form.

Workplace injury attorneys for worker's comp claims.

We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case.


Our personal injury trial lawyers handle all types of accident claims including those involving facial accidents, throughout all of Massachusetts including, but not limited to, those in the following counties, cities and towns: Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Marshfield, Hingham, Duxbury, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Holbrook, Middleborough; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Lakeville, Norton; Cape Cod, Falmouth, Barnstable and the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Everett, Lynn, Revere, Dorchester, Roxbury.

Related posts:

Pneumothorax — Collapsed Lung - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Pursuing Compensation for Accident V...
A pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. The condition occurs when air leaks into the space between the chest wall and lungs. The air pushes on the outside...
Pulmonary Contusion (Bruised Lung): Causes, Treatment, and Seeking Compensation
If you are experiencing chest pain and coughing up blood after a traumatic incident or a car crash, you may have a pulmonary contusion. Make sure you ...
Cardiac Contusion—Myocardial Contusion
A cardiac contusion is a complication of an injury such as are often sustained in a car accident. A myocardial contusion, also known as a cardiac cont...
Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Esophageal Injuries in Accident Victims
At first, victims of esophageal injury experience pain. If a perforation or tear occurs symptoms include difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and breath...
Ruptured Spleen—Splenic Injury
Spleen injuries occur when there is a significant impact to the spleen from some outside source, like an automobile crash, damaging or rupturing the s...
Blunt Trauma Hepatic Injury -- The Serious Nature of a Sheared, Lacerated, or Ruptured Liver Due to ...
The liver is the most frequently injured abdominal organ in blunt trauma scenarios. The second most common injury to the liver occurs when there is pe...
Can I seek compensation for a subdural hematoma caused by an accident that was someone else's fault?
A subdural hematoma is the result of a serious head injury. Generally, a hematoma is a collection of blood outside of the blood vessel, artery or vein...
Kidney Trauma/Renal Failure
Those suffering from renal injuries typically complain of abdominal or flank pain. It is critical that medical professionals undertake a urinalysis an...