[Right diaphragmatic paralysis after liver transplantation]. Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Right hemidiaphragm paralysis has been previously documented in patients after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) and it may contribute to the development of postoperative pulmonary problems. It has been postulated that a crush injury to the right phrenic nerve during OLT is the cause of dysfunction of the right hemidiaphragm. To assess the incidence and effect of right phrenic nerve injury after OLT, we prospectively studied 51 adult liver recipients that we compared with twelve patients who underwent liver resection (LR) without suprahepatic vena cava clamping. We studied the diaphragm excursion by ultrasound, the pulmonary function tests and the transcutaneous phrenic nerve conduction. Righ phrenic nerve injury and hemidiaphragm paralysis occurred respectively in 79% and 38% of the liver recipients but not after LR. Conduction along the right phrenic nerve was absent in 53% of the patients and reduced in another 26%. Left phrenic nerve conduction and left hemidiaphragm excursion were normal in both groups. Liver recipients with no conduction in the right phrenic nerve had a significantly greater decrease in vital capacity in the supine position compared to those with some conduction (29% vs 14%; P < 0.001). However, neither the time on the ventilator or the hospital stay were significantly different between the two groups. Complete recovery of phrenic nerve conduction and diaphragm function may take up to nine months. Right phrenic nerve injury is common after OLT and causes right hemidiaphragm dysfunction.


  • Roy, A
  • Lapointe, R
  • Dagenais, M
  • McAlister, V
  • Grant, DR
  • Brown, William
  • Hutton, L
  • Wall, WJ

publication date

  • 1993