Beware the ‘raised right hemidiaphragm’ in a female patient with previous pneumothorax surgery: liver herniation through a massive endometrosis-related diaphragmatic fenestration

Peter S. Y. Yu, Alan D. L. Sihoe


A 44-year-old non-smoking woman presented with recurrent right spontaneous pneumothorax 9 years after a right-side surgical pleurodesis via a video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) approach for suspected primary pneumothorax in another center. Histological examination of tissue excised during the earlier operation confirmed catamenial pneumothorax, but no further treatment was given. During the 9 years since, she had had persistent right lower chest pain and chest X-ray (CXR) had shown a “persistently elevated right diaphragm”, but these had been treated as iatrogenic neuropathic pain and phrenic nerve palsy respectively. A redo right surgical exploration was performed for the current recurrence. Intra-operatively, the right half of the liver was found to have herniated into the chest via a massive fenestration (10 cm × 9 cm) in the right hemidiaphragm. The defect was repaired via a combined thoracotomy and laparotomy approach. This case serves as an advisory that in patients with persistent ipsilateral chest pain and a raised hemidiaphragm following surgery for catamenial pneumothorax, diaphragmatic fenestration and abdominal visceral herniation should be suspected amongst the differential diagnoses.