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Ann Surg. 1978 Aug;188(2):229-33.

Delayed presentation of traumatic diaphragmatic hernia.


Twenty-five patients with traumatic diaphragmatic hernia discovered at least five months after injury are described, of whom 18 were male and seven female. All but one hernia occurred on the left side. Stab wounds were the etiological factor in 22 patients and blunt trauma in three. The diagnosis was most often made by a chest or abdominal radiograph, but barium ingestion confirmed the diagnosis in ten patients. Intercostal drainage of gastric contents provided the diagnosis in two patients. In all nine patients initially approached by a thoracotomy or a thoracoabdominal incision, the hernia was easily reduced and the defect repaired. Although reduction and repair were easily accomplished by the abdominal route in seven patients, this approach was unsatisfactory or inadequate in six others. The colon and stomach were usually in the chest, and strangulation occurred in five patients. The mortality was 20% but rose to 80% when gangrene was present.

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