Elevated diaphragm


The diaphragm occupies a central position in the human body. It separates the chest from the abdomen and thus the respiratory from the abdominal organs. The diaphragm is like a plate made up of muscles and tendons through which large blood vessels, nerves and the esophagus pull into the abdomen. It plays a central role in breathing.

The diaphragm can be misaligned for various reasons and bulge into the chest. This so-called elevated diaphragm can occur on one or both sides and have various causes.


As a rule, the diaphragm bulges into the chest cavity when there is a change in the organs in the chest or abdomen. This can occur with a malformation of the lung or at one lung infection be the case when breathing is restricted and the abdominal organs push the diaphragm upwards.

An enlargement of the abdominal organs can also lead to an elevated diaphragm. Is the liver due to various diseases such as Hepatomegaly, Congested liver, Fatty liver, Cysts or Tumors enlarged, this leads to an elevated diaphragm on the right side.
An enlarged spleen leads to an elevated position on the left. Large tumors in the other abdominal organs can also represent a significant mass and press the diaphragm towards the chest. However, this can also be due to excessive air in the abdomen (flatulence).

The nerve that supplies the diaphragm (Phrenic nerve) can be damaged, which also causes an elevated diaphragm. In addition, a malformation of the spine, a Scoliosis, Be the cause of an elevated diaphragm.

Not a disease but the natural state of pregnancy can also cause the diaphragm to bulge into the rib cage.


Due to the important role that the diaphragm plays in breathing, an elevated diaphragm can lead to a restriction in breathing ability up to Shortness of breath. You may experience pain when breathing and a feeling of pressure in the costal arch. In addition, the permanent elevated diaphragm can become a painful one Diaphragmitis to lead.

Depending on the disease underlying the elevated diaphragm, different accompanying symptoms occur.


If there is a suspicion of an elevated diaphragm, this can be done using Roentgen-Investigations are confirmed. The displacement of the abdominal and chest organs, which are displaced by the protruding diaphragm, is then visible on the x-ray images.


Depending on the disease underlying the elevated diaphragm, appropriate therapy is initiated.

If the high stand occurs under a pregnancy up, no treatment is necessary and the raised position disappears after the child is born if the uterus has returned to its normal size.

At a lung infection is treated with the appropriate medication, usually these are Antibiotics. Liver diseases also require appropriate therapy. At a Fatty liver or obesity, which triggered the elevated diaphragm, weight reduction comes first.

Concomitant symptoms of an elevated diaphragm, such as breathing problems or flatulence, can be treated with medication.

Unilateral elevated diaphragm

Depending on which side the unilateral elevated diaphragm occurs, there can be different causes, usually Organ enlargements be the cause.


If the elevated diaphragm occurs only on the right side, it is often an enlargement of the liver the trigger for it. This can be caused by various liver diseases. Cysts or Tumors in the liver lead to an enlargement, but also one Fatty liver or a congested liver can be the trigger.


A left diaphragm elevation can be caused by the enlargement of the spleen which can occur in the context of various underlying diseases.


This usually occurs with an isolated elevated diaphragm no direct pain. However, there may be pain when breathing or when applying pressure.

Pain is often associated with the underlying medical condition, such as a lung infection or liver disease.


In the case of an elevated diaphragm that only occurs temporarily, such as in Flatulence or during the pregnancy, no therapy is necessary. However, therapeutic exercises can be performed to help with breathing restricted by the elevated diaphragm.


In babies there is a so-called more physiological Elevated diaphragm. This means that it is often perfectly normal for babies to have an elevated diaphragm. The lung borders are therefore very high up in the chest, which must be taken into account during the examinations. Especially after meals is that diaphragm particularly high and thus influences the spread of the organs. The heart borders are also shifted as a result, which is why they are difficult to recognize during the examination.