Traumatic Diaphragmatic Injuries: Spectrum of Radiographic Findings

Kristine L. Shackleton, Edward T. Stewart, Andrew J. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Traumatic diaphragmatic injuries are usually caused by blunt trauma or penetrating injuries. The diagnosis may be delayed due to confusing clinical and radiographic findings. According to the results of a review of 25 cases, the diagnosis of diaphragmatic injury is more often delayed and requires more imaging studies in cases of blunt trauma than in cases of penetrating injury. Blunt injury is indicated by asymmetry of a hemidiaphragm or changing diaphragmatic levels, abdominal contents within the chest, diaphragmatic paresis, unexplained hemothorax, or multiple upper abdominal injuries. Penetrating injury is indicated by hemothorax or a missile or blade trajectory through or near the diaphragm. Usually, plain radiography shows initial evidence of traumatic diaphragmatic injury and prompts confirmatory imaging, which includes computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, barium studies, fluoroscopy, nuclear medicine, and ultrasound. Nevertheless, the diagnosis of traumatic diaphragmatic injury may be elusive and often can be made only during exploratory surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


  • Diaphragm, injuries, 66.40, 795.156, 795.40
  • Diaphragm, rupture, 66.40, 795.156, 795.40
  • Hernia, diaphragmatic, 795.156


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