Research: Symptomatic hepatothorax presenting 25 years after penetrating thoracoabdominal injury

Ann R Coll Surg Engl

. 2021 Jan;103(1):e17-e19. doi: 10.1308/rcsann.2020.0195. Epub 2020 Sep 24.

Symptomatic hepatothorax presenting 25 years after penetrating thoracoabdominal injury

S Variawa 1R Marais 1Jjp Buitendag 1J Edge 1E Steyn 1Affiliations expand

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Hepatic herniation through the diaphragm is a rare finding. It generally occurs due to a congenital diaphragmatic abnormality or blunt trauma resulting in a diaphragmatic defect. Making the diagnosis is difficult, as there are few definitive clinical signs and chest radiograph (CXR) findings may be non-specific. To our knowledge, only a single case report exists of penetrating right diaphragm injury leading to hepatic herniation. A 42-year-old man presented to the emergency department of a regional hospital with hyperglycaemia and exertional dyspnoea. He was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 2. He gave a history of smoking for 15 pack-years, was negative for retroviral disease and had no history of pulmonary tuberculosis. He had no significant surgical history but reported being stabbed with a knife in 1995. The point of entry was below the level of the nipple in the right anterior axillary line. At the time, he was treated with an intercostal drain and discharged home. CXR showed a right-sided chest mass. We considered a differential diagnosis of pulmonary consolidation, diaphragm eventration or hepatothorax. Computerized tomography of the chest and abdomen demonstrated apparent intrathoracic extension of the right liver lobe and partial attenuation of the superior vena cava and right atrium due to a mass effect. The upper border of the liver abutted the aortic arch. Surgical treatment options were discussed. The patient declined surgery and will be followed up as an outpatient.

Keywords: Diaphragm injury; Hepatothorax; Herniation; Penetrating injury.

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