[Incarcerated diaphragmatic hernia presenting as colonic obstruction] Academic Article uri icon


  • Diaphragmatic hernias in adults that are not categorized as hiatal hernias are rare. Hernias of the diaphragm itself appear in the perinatal age group and are defined as congenital hernias, presenting with severe respiratory distress and requiring immediate repair. There are a few asymptomatic post-partum cases in young children or adults. We present 3 cases of diaphragmatic hernia in men, aged 19, 20 and 74, respectively. 2 were admitted because of colonic incarceration with strangulation in the hernial sac. In the other case there was an incidental finding of incarcerated colon in a diaphragmatic hernia discovered in a patient who initially presented with unrelated thoraco-abdominal trauma. Contrary to the dominant clinical presentation as infant-respiratory distress, the predominant findings in adults are gastrointestinal complications. We believe successful treatment is more likely when there is a high level of awareness of the possibility of this kind of hernia in the adult, which can be a recurrence after perinatal hernia repair. It is essential to recognize that this is a combined thoraco-abdominal problem since it is often necessary to perform simultaneous laparotomy, thoracotomy and stoma formation.

publication date

  • August 1, 1998