Intrapericardial Diaphragmatic Hernia in Adults

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Intrapericardial diaphragmatic hernia (IDH) is the rarest type of adult diaphragmatic hernia. Only 28 cases have been reported. Indirect blunt trauma has been implicated in most cases, but one resulted from a stab wound to the anterior chest. Patients presented immediately or up to 20 years following trauma with symptoms of intermittent bowel obstruction, including one with strangulation, or cardiac dysfunction, including dyspnea, palpitations, and two patients with cardiac tamponade. Physical findings included bowel sounds in the chest, decreased heart and lung sounds, and an absent point of maximal cardiac impulse. Chest roentgenography usually revealed supradiaphragmatic gas shadows suggestive of bowel in the chest. Thorough examination of both anteroposterior and lateral chest roentgenograms and barium gastrointestinal series may provide positive diagnosis of anterior diaphragmatic hernia, and fluoroscopy after induced pneumoperitoneum may establish its pericardial involvement. Celiotomy is the preferred approach to surgical repair of IDH. Since the symptoms referable to adult IDH can be incapacitating or life threatening, herniorrhaphy should be performed promptly upon diagnosis, with expectation of an uneventful recovery and negligible recurrence rate.

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