Ask the expert


What is a raised diaphragm?

My husband had a chest x-ray and the doctor advised his right diaphragm looked raised. What is a raised diaphragm and what is the treatment?

28 February 2021

The diaphragm is a thin layer of muscle that sits between your chest and your tummy. It separates your lung cavity from your abdominal cavity.

A raised diaphragm is where the diaphragm is elevated. In this case, your husband has an elevated hemidiaphragm, which is where one half of the diaphragm is raised.

Your GP will be looking for the reasons why this has happened. It could be a problem with the diaphragm itself, or something going on above it or below it.

For example, a raised diaphragm could be caused by:

  • A lung infection
  • Part of one lung collapsing
  • A clot on the lung
  • Fibrosis of the lung – where the lung stiffens (often due to exposure to irritants like dust or an allergy)
  • Cysts or tumours
  • Abdominal sweling referred to as ascites - a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity.

Your GP may need to request further investigations or refer your husband to an appropriate specialist to determine a possible underlying cause and how this can best be managed.

Answered by Health at Hand team.

Further Reading

Pulmonary embolism - NHS factsheet

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