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Lung diseases

Left diaphram paralyzed

04/27/2009

Question:

How do they fix a paralized left lung?

Answer:

Usually no surgery is done for a paralyzed lung (diaphragm) if it is only on one side. A paralyzed diaphragm muscle can result from injury from surgery (most commonly heart surgery or neck surgery), cancer, aneurysm, trauma, or sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Most people can function relatively normally with just one diaphragm paralyzed but if two diaphragms are paralyzed, then fairly severe shortness of breath can result. Occasionally, patients with one paralyzed diaphragm require assistance breathing when laying flat or sleeping with a device called a BiPAP unit. Often the other muscles of the ribs, shoulders, and neck can build up over 1-2 years and this can improve the breathing over time. Patients with a paralyzed diaphragm can hasten this process by regular aerobic activity and moderate weight lifting of the arms and chest. On occasion, the diaphragm function can return if the nerve that goes to it (the phrenic nerve) recovers - if this happens, it can take many months.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University