Bochdalek Hernia in Adults symptoms

Bochdalek Hernia in Adults Symptoms

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Bochdalek hernia is predominantly a congenital hernia. However, a small population of adults also encounter Bochdalek hernias occasionally.

A Bochdalek hernia occurs on the side of the diaphragm toward the back, mostly on the left-hand side. A weak spot in the diaphragm permitting the herniation of the abdominal content into the chest or thoracic cavity results in a Bochdalek hernia.

Bochdalek hernias are generally symptomatic and can be repaired using modern surgical procedures. Bochdalek hernias can also be asymptomatic and when found incidentally are advised to be repaired without delay.

Bochdalek Hernia in Adults Symptoms

The symptoms of a Bochdalek hernia depend on the condition of the herniation. Since the herniated abdominal contents move into the thoracic cavity both respiratory and gastrointestinal complications are expected to arise.

Respiratory Symptoms

When the abdominal contents press against the organs in the chest cavity the following symptoms may arise:

  • Shortness of breath: When the herniated organs press the lungs, you may feel suffocated and tend to breathe rapidly. This results in shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain: Chest pain is common due to a Bochdalek hernia as the abdominal organs move into the chest cavity.

  • Respiratory infections: You may get repeated respiratory infections and respiratory failures are also possible.

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Gastrointestinal Symptoms

The abnormal movement of the abdominal contents results in complicating the organs. This can lead to problems like:

  • Abdominal pain: The twisting and turning of the abdominal organs while moving from the abdominal cavity to the thoracic cavity through the weak spot or opening can result in volvulus, leading to intestinal obstruction and abdominal pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting: When the intestines get obstructed, indigestion follows resulting in nausea and vomiting. The appetite to eat may also decrease.
  • Constipation: With bowel obstruction, constipation, bloating, and abdominal distension also become common.

Other Symptoms

The other symptoms associated with Bochdalek hernia that can be observed on the surface of the skin include

Mass in the chest: You can feel a mass or lump of the hernia on your body surface near the diaphragm region. The Bochdalek hernias appear mostly on the left side of the body, and you may sense this lump of a hernia on your left side. It may not be too bulged, but you can still sense a mass of a body part protruding in that region.

Discoloration of skin: The skin covering the area where the hernia constricts the internal body parts may become discolored due to the decrease in blood and oxygen supply to that area.

What is the Cause of Bochdalek Hernia in Adults?

The cause of Bochdalek hernia in adults is still under question as it occurs rarely due to no solid reason other than the possibility of a congenital defect.

Yet the possible reasons behind a Bochdalek hernia in adults may include

  • Blunt injuries
  • Trauma due to accidents
  • Surgical interventions in the abdominal or chest region
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity, etc.


Bochdalek hernias are rarer. It is more common only in infants. Yet, when the Bochdalek hernia is asymptomatic during infancy there exists a possibility for the hernia to be carried into adulthood, which may manifest later in life.

Some Bochdalek hernias are symptomatic while others are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic hernias may or may not get discovered. However, asymptomatic hernias can be identified via noticeable symptoms and diagnosed through imaging and other examinations.

It is ideal to diagnose and repair a Bochdalek hernia as soon as possible. So, visit an expert hernia surgeon if you experience any of the Bochdalek hernia symptoms.

To know more about Bochdalek hernias, their symptoms, causes, and how to effectively treat them, contact a hernia specialist.

Dr. K. Amilthan MBBS., MS., FMAS., FALS.

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