What Is a Hemi-Diaphragm?

A hemi-diaphragm is either the left or the right half of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. The right hemi-diaphragm is located near the liver and is usually stronger than the left. The left hemi-diaphragm is more prone to rupture than the right.

The two hemi-diaphragms can be seen clearly on an X-ray. They occupy the bottom of ribcage, and are usually attached to several structures. Where the two hemi-diaphragms meet at the highest point, the diaphragm attaches to the sternum.

When one hemi-diaphragm appears to be raised higher than the other, it is called an elevated or raised hemi-diaphragm. A new raised hemi-diaphragm may indicate damage to the phrenic nerve that controls the diaphragm. It can also be a sign of problems such as lymphoma, lung cancer or esophageal cancer. Temporary elevation of the hemi-diaphragm mostly occurs in patients with pancreatitis or after an abdominal surgery.

A raised hemi-diaphragm can be detected during a physical examination and can be confirmed by an X-ray or a CT scan. The treatment for an elevated hemi-diaphragm is determined by the cause of the problem, and may require the input from several medical experts to develop the most suitable treatment.