Centers of Excellence

The Lung Center

Diaphragm

The diaphragm is the muscle between your chest and stomach that helps you breathe. When you inhale, the diaphragm decreases pressure in the lungs and expands the rib cage. The diaphragm can be the site of many different disorders, ranging from a structural abnormality that a person is born with (congenital) to an injury or serious illness.

Conditions affecting the diaphragm include:

  • Hernias such as a congenital diaphragmatic hernia and hiatal hernia
  • Tumors including benign tumors such as lipoma, mesothelial and bronchogenic cysts, hemangiomas, angiofibromas and neurogenic tumors. Malignant tumors that originate in the diaphragm are rare sarcomas such as fibrosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, leiomyosarcoma and germ cell tumors. Cancerous tumors that have spread to the diaphragm include thymoma, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
  • Paralyzed diaphragm caused by neurological disorders, spinal cord disorders and trauma to the phrenic nerve from surgery, radiation or a tumor.

Board certified thoracic surgeons evaluate and treat diaphragm conditions in conjunction with pulmonologists at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) Lung Center. This specialization includes repair of hernias and resection of tumors. We have advanced expertise in the surgical repair of the diaphragm for patients with a spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Brigham and Women's Hospital was the first hospital in New England to implant a diaphragm pacing system in an ALS patient. Diaphragm pacing helps patients reduce or eliminate their dependence on mechanical ventilation.

Diaphragm Topics

Make an Appointment

Call The Lung Center at 1-844-BWH-LUNG (1-844-294-5864) to make an appointment with a diaphragm specialist or request an appointment online.

Refer a Patient

Physicians can call 1-844-BWH-LUNG (1-844-294-5864) to refer a patient or can make an online referral.

Diaphragm Specialists
Location

The Lung Center is located at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) at the 15 Francis Street entrance. Thoracic surgery, pulmonary and critical care medicine and thoracic imaging are adjacent to one another, making accessibility and appointment scheduling seamless.

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