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Incarcerated diaphragmatic hernia after right hepatectomy: an autopsy case with a review of 45 previous cases


An iatrogenic diaphragmatic hernia after major hepatic resection is a rare complication. Incarceration of the abdominal organ through a diaphragmatic defect can have a fatal prognosis. Here, we report a case of incarcerated diaphragmatic hernia after right hepatectomy, which was diagnosed only after the autopsy. The deceased, who had right hepatectomy 1 year previously, complained of severe chest pain, and 4 days later was found dead. Localized decomposition in his chest and abdomen suggested a late complication of the surgery because the location was consistent with the prior surgical area. In the autopsy, there was a small defect in his right diaphragm, resulting in the herniation and incarceration of the small intestine. Gross and microscopic findings of the herniated small intestine were consistent with ischemic enteritis. Different from our case, most of the previously reported cases showed a good prognosis after surgical repair, except one lethal one. Even though its overall incidence is very low, an incarcerated diaphragmatic hernia is one of the critical complications of major hepatic resection. The clinicians should warn the patients to avoid preventable morbidity and mortality. Reviewing this fatal complication would be also helpful for forensic pathologists and death investigators.

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Correspondence to Moon-Young Kim.

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Lee, S.W., Lee, S.D. & Kim, MY. Incarcerated diaphragmatic hernia after right hepatectomy: an autopsy case with a review of 45 previous cases. Int J Legal Med 135, 1549–1554 (2021).

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  • Diaphragmatic hernia
  • Postoperative complication
  • Hepatectomy
  • Enterocolitis
  • Ischemia