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Lung diseases

Elevated Diaphragm

08/02/2010

Question:

Can an enlarged liver cause an elevated (raised) diaphragm?

Answer:

While an enlarged liver (called hepatomegaly) is often mentioned as potentially causing an elevated hemidiaphragm (only the right half is affected), it is difficult to find a high quality scientific study to confirm this. Instead, certain disease that can cause hepatomegaly can also cause irritation of the hemidiaphragm.

Most notably, an infection of the liver (amebiasis) and cancer of the liver have been associated commonly with elevation of the right side of the diaphragm. You can imagine that an enlarging liver is more likely to enlarge toward your feet (due to gravity) rather than toward your head. Taken together, there is not very good scientific information about this association. You should discuss this concern further with your provider.

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Response by:

James M O'Brien, Jr, MD James M O'Brien, Jr, MD
Former Associate Professor
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University