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Lung diseases

Paralyzed Diaphragm Treatment Options

06/07/2011

Question:

My father is 71 and had been a smoker for years but quit in 1998. He has been experiencing shortness of breath since 2003. His doctors told him he has a paralyzed diaphragm on his left side but it`s working the opposite direction from his right side diaphragm. He wants to restore his breath to be able to go hunting etc. Is the only treatment available plication? He`s a little overweight but otherwise in great health. Please advise. Thank you.

Answer:

There are many causes of a paralyzed unilateral (on one side only) diaphragm, and it is important to discuss this with your physician to determine what the cause may be in your case.  Many patients who have a unilateral paralyzed diaphragm do not have symptoms. In some cases, patients may notice shortness of breath with activity or exercise, especially if they also have other lung disease or medical problems, such as heart disease.  It is often the other lung disease or medical problems that cause the problems with breathing and not the paralyzed diaphragm.  It is important to discuss this with your physician.  Often, these issues are more important than the paralyzed diaphragm.

Most cases of unilateral diaphragm paralysis do not require special treatment.  In severe cases, a surgical procedure may help improve the function of the diaphragm.

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Response by:

Nitin Y Bhatt, MD Nitin Y Bhatt, MD
Clinical Assisstant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University