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Lung diseases

Is There Treatment for a Paralyzed Diaphragm?



my 76 year old just recently found out that he has a paralyzed diaphram on one side, he is on a venilator and has been for a lil over two months battiling phenomnia and psuedomonia excuse the spelling, they got that cleared up and were beginning to wean him off the venilator he was doing well but then two weeks ago or so we were told about his paralyzed diaphragm they just keep telling us there is nothing they can do for it and because of that now he is not able to come off the venilator, he has a traech and he begs for water everyday but they say if he were to have a smaller traech he would take in his own air but would not be able to exhale it out which would of course not be a good thing we are desperatley seeking any options in treatment for him, is there anything anything anything that could treat this? we or should we just expect the worst?


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.  It is often the other lung disease or medical problems that cause the problems with breathing and not the paralyzed diaphragm.  There are also many reasons why patients cannot wean off a ventilator (including lung diseases, infections, heart problems, weakness), and it is also 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.  In some cases of bilateral (both sides) diaphragm paralysis, a diaphragm pacer can be used.

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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