Bilateral diaphragm paralysis following cardiac surgery in children: 10-years' experience

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To review the incidence and complications of conservative management of bilateral diaphragm paralysis following pediatric cardiac surgery.

Design and setting:

Retrospective clinical review based on computerized database with daily follow-up in a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit in a tertiary care center.

Patient and participants:

Were reviewed the data on nine patients with bilateral diaphragm paralysis from the 3,214 consecutive children (0.28%) after operations performed between 1995 and 2004.

Measurements and results:

A fluoroscopy-confirmed diagnosis of bilateral diaphragm paralysis was made in all nine patients. Mechanical ventilation was required for 14–62 days; maximum time to recovery was 7 weeks. Three patients underwent unilateral plication. Patients with a complicated postoperative course required longer mechanical ventilation. All patients were managed with a nasotracheal tube. One patient had minor subglottic stenosis. All patients survived.


Bilateral diaphragm paralysis can be managed conservatively with good prognosis and minor complications. The recovery time is relatively short, less than 7 weeks.

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