Diaphragmatic paralysis after phrenic nerve injury in newborns

Yazan K. Rizeq*, Benjamin T. Many, Jonathan C. Vacek, Audra J. Reiter, Mehul V. Raval, Fizan Abdullah, Seth D. Goldstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Phrenic nerve injury (PNI) from birth trauma is a recognized phenomenon, generally occurring with ipsilateral brachial plexus palsy (BPP). In severe cases, PNI results in diaphragm paresis (DP) and respiratory insufficiency. Surgical diaphragmatic plication (SDP) is a potential management strategy for patients with PNI and DP, but timing and outcomes associated with SDP have not been rigorously studied. Methods: Records from 49 tertiary United States pediatric hospitals in the Pediatric Health Information System from 2004 to 2018 were analyzed. The study cohort included patients diagnosed with BPP from birth trauma who were documented to have PNI or DP. Patients who underwent congenital cardiac operations were excluded. Results: A total of 5832 patients were identified with BPP from birth trauma during the study period, 122 (2%) of whom were found to have concomitant DP. Of those, 65 (53%) were male, 39 (32%) were infants of diabetic mothers, 80 (65%) required mechanical ventilation, and 33 (27%) underwent SDP. SDP was performed at a median (range) age of 36 (7–95) days. Median (range) total and postoperative hospital lengths of stay (LOS) were 34 (6–180) and 15 (4–132) days, respectively. There was also an observed increase in post-operative LOS with increase in age at operation. Conclusion: Neonatal DP is rare and is managed with SDP in a minority of instances. Age at repair affects total and postoperative length of stay, proxies for resource utilization and morbidity. Repair prior to 45 days of life appears to result in a shorter postoperative hospital stay. This analysis will help guide surgeons with respect to indications and operative timing for infant DP. Type of Study: Retrospective Comparative Study. Level of Evidence: Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-244
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Diaphragm paralysis
  • Diaphragm plication
  • Phrenic nerve injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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