Bochdalek Hernia - Know The Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Bochdalek Hernia – Know The Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

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Bochdalek hernia or posterolateral diaphragmatic hernia is prominently a congenital defect, although it can also develop in adults.

Bochdalek hernia is named after the Czech pathologist Vincenz Alexander Bochdalek and is often referred to as a diaphragmatic hernia.

Bochdalek hernias are fatal and must be treated urgently upon diagnosis.

What is a Bochdalek Hernia?

A Bochdalek hernia is a weakness that develops in the diaphragmatic region mostly due to the incomplete development of the diaphragm in the embryo.

The Bochdalek hernia occurs in the posterior costal, which is towards the back on the side of the ribcage and near the 10th and 11th pair of ribs. The foramen or opening in the diaphragm gives access to the abdominal and thoracic cavities resulting in the movement of abdominal organs into the thoracic cavity.

Bochdalek hernias occur mostly on the left side of the body and are highly fatal, especially to babies.

Symptoms of Bochdalek Hernia

Bochdalek hernia symptoms in babies are identified through an abnormal chest appearance, with one side being larger than the other and a caved-in abdomen. Adults may also experience similar issues

Other symptoms of a Bochdalek hernia include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Difficulty in eating
  • Discoloration of skin in the area of the hernia
  • Faster heart rate

Causes of Bochdalek Hernia

Bochdalek hernias arise due to a congenital defect in the diaphragm when the posterolateral diaphragmatic foramina fails to close during fetal growth. The reason for the failure of the diaphragm to close during embryo development is unidentified. However, proper prenatal care is suggested for the prevention of Bochdalek hernia in babies.

Bochdalek hernias in adults may arise due to any blunt injuries or surgical interventions in the chest or abdominal region.

Complications of Bochdalek Hernia

The complications of Bochdalek hernia include incarceration, strangulation, and perforation. Bochdalek hernias can obstruct the bowel causing ileus that impedes food movement in the digestive tract.

Bochadalek hernias are considered highly fatal due to their ability to congest organs in the thoracic cavity.

Infants are more prone to the morbidity of Bochdalek hernia. Therefore the hernia must be treated as quickly as possible

Treatment for Bochdalek Hernia

Bochdalek hernias demand surgery all the time as they escalate into severity rapidly.

Imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), X-rays, and arterial blood gas tests are widely employed to diagnose a Bochdalek hernia.

Laparoscopic surgery is commonly used to repair Bochdalek hernia. The hernia repair surgery removes abdominal organs from the chest and places them in the right position. Then a mesh is placed in the weak spot to strengthen it and prevent future hernia.

Preventing Bochdalek Hernia

Congenital Bochdalek hernias are highly unpreventable and proper prenatal care is generally prescribed for prevention of the hernia in infants.

Adults can maintain a healthy lifestyle, get treated for blunt injuries or traumas, and check for Bochdalek hernias after thoracic or abdominal surgeries to stay cautious of the occurrence of the hernia.


Bochdalek hernias can be highly fatal in babies and must be handled with utmost care. Adults also face Bochdalek hernias, so it’s important to approach a hernia surgeon without delay.

The latest hernia repair techniques are very advanced and can repair a Bochdalek hernia successfully.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and consult a hernia specialist if you experience any kind of Bochdalek hernia symptoms.


Do Bochdalek hernias need surgery?

Yes, Bochdalek hernias desperately require surgery. Since Bochdalek hernias can perforate and strangulate the organs in the chest cavity it is essential to repair the hernia using surgery.

How do you fix a Bochdalek hernia?

Surgery is employed to fix a Bochdalek hernia. The herniated organs are moved to their original position and a mesh is placed to seal the opening.

Can you live with a Bochdalek hernia?

You can live with a Bochdalek hernia until it gets complicated. A strangulated, obstructed, or incarcerated hernia needs immediate surgical intervention as it is fatal.

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

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Dr. Amilthan
Dr. Amilthan

Dr. Amilthan is a renowned laparoscopic hernia surgeon based in Chennai, with over 20 years of experience in general surgery. He completed his MBBS and MS in General Surgery at Kilpauk Medical College and Government Royapettah Hospital in Chennai.

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