An elevated diaphragm is usually a congenital condition, but atrophy, paralysis and lack of development in certain muscle fibers can also cause an elevated diaphragm, explains National Center for Biotechnology Information. Surgery or an abnormal growth of tissue that interrupts the phrenic nerve may also lead to this condition.
An abnormal elevation of the diaphragm is called eventration, and it means that all or part of the diaphragm is mostly fibrous tissue with very little muscle fiber, says National Center for Biotechnology Information. In some cases there is no way to tell if an elevated diaphragm is the result of a paralyzed phrenic nerve or a congenital absence of muscle. It can be partial or complete depending on whether it is on the right or left side, and it is a rare condition. Patients with this condition may have no symptoms, but if symptoms are present, surgery is required.
Thoracic surgery, birth trauma and rare chest tumors are also common causes of this condition, notes Pediatric Surgeons of Phoenix. Some of the problems eventration of the diaphragm causes include pneumonia and breathing complications. Most of the time, the diaphragm remains stable enough that it does not cause any symptoms. Surgery may be recommended if a patient is unable to be taken off a mechanical ventilator, has respiratory distress related to the diaphragm, or experiences certain kinds of pneumonia.