A diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect, which is an abnormality that occurs before birth as a fetus is forming in the mother's uterus. An opening is present in the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity). With this type of birth defect, some of the organs that are normally found in the abdomen move up into the chest cavity through this abnormal opening. When the hernia occurs on the left side (85%) of the diaphragm the stomach, liver, spleen, or intestines usually move up into the chest cavity. When the hernia occurs on the right side of the diaphragm the liver or intestines usually move up into the chest cavity.
The diaphragmatic hernia will be repaired with an operation. The stomach, intestine, and other abdominal organs are moved from the chest cavity back to the abdominal cavity. The hole in the diaphragm is repaired. This surgery can be performed by using laparoscopy and with minimal complications.