Diaphragmatic spasm: A neglected cause of dyspnoea and chest pain

  • Stewart G. Wolf


The study included 17 patients, 12 women and 5 men, with a recurrent symptom complex involving chest pain and dyspnoea characterized by inability to get a full breath. Some attacks had subsided spontaneously. Others had lasted hours or days. When examined by fluoroscopy during an attack, each subject was found to have a nearly maximally contracted (flat) diaphragm. In some of them the attack was promptly interrupted by a small intravenous injection of sodium amytal. In others it could be aborted by a conscious effort at full expiration. The syndrome associated with diaphragmatic spasm is discussed in comparison with other noncardiac sources of chest pain and dyspnoea.


Chest Pain Spontaneous Pneumothorax Medical Research Laboratory Amytal Diaphragmatic Excursion 
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  1. Wolf, S. (1947). Sustained contraction of the diaphragm; the mechanism of a common type of dyspnoea and precordial pain (abstract).Journal of Clinical Investigation, 26: 1201.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stewart G. Wolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Totts Gap Medical Research LaboratoriesBangor

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