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Phrenic Nerve Damage

Phrenic Nerve Damage

There are many reasons for phrenic nerve damage, which can lead to a number of health complications. Read on and find out some useful information about this disorder, mentioned in this article.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Feb 14, 2018
Fantasy cancerous metastasis. Medical illustration
The phrenic nerve is a part of the peripheral nervous system, and it arises in the cervical/neck region of the spine. In humans there are two of these nerves which are observed, viz; the right and the left, which follow two different paths, however they have the same origins. They both mainly originate in the C4 or the fourth cervical vertebrae, but receive contribution from the C3 and the C5 vertebrae of the neck. The path of the right phrenic nerve is such that, it passes the subclavian vein from is posterior side, then goes to the right root of the lung which lies on the right atrium's anterior side.
Whereas the left phrenic nerve follows a path that touches the left ventricle of the pericardium and then enters the diaphragm at the lower end on the left side. The clinical importance of the phrenic nerve is that the contraction of the diaphragm is carried out by this nerve, and thus, is very important in respiration. However, because of certain causes, this nerve can be damaged, thus leading to respiratory and other health problems. The causes, symptoms, and treatment options are mentioned in the paragraphs below, so take a look.
Causes
  • As the phrenic nerve is a very crucial part of the respiratory system and in turn the cardiovascular system, there are many health issues that can arise when the phrenic nerve is damaged.
  • This damage can occur due to many reasons, mostly due to physical strain.
  • Since it is present in the cervical spine, any strenuous activity or trauma to the back can lead to severe damage to the nerve.
  • If you meet with an accident, where your back is hit directly, the cervical spine is surely at risk, and so is your phrenic nerve.
  • Many a time, during surgery, there can be some damage done to the tissues around the nerve, due to which your breathing is interrupted, or you might get a hiccup.
Symptoms
  • In this nerve damage, there is more risk to the right phrenic nerve, as the left phrenic nerve is located in the interiors. If the right nerve is damaged, the diaphragm can be operated by the left nerve, but because of the increased strain on a single nerve, respiration is affected.
  • Difficulty in breathing is the most basic symptoms, due to which the patient may suffer from a hiccup reflex, abscess in the diaphragm and tissues, or a ruptured spleen. The hiccups are caused because of the sudden contraction of the diaphragm when the nerve is damaged.
  • When the damage is done, it usually leads to paralysis of the diaphragm, and when the diaphragm is paralyzed, the abdominal organs are easily pushed upwards to the chest. This is a very painful condition and can be surgically fixed, but your respiration gets affected.
Treatment
  • When the phrenic nerve has been damaged, there are not many treatments for repair other than surgery. Here, the damaged phrenic nerve is repaired by grafting, which allows it to be regenerated, and to start functioning appropriately after a certain duration of time.
  • The recovery may take a long period of time, depending on the immune system of each individual, and his/her healing process.
  • Therefore, when the surgery is done, the patients are kept in observation, as there might be complications if the body's immune system doesn't accept the grafted nerve.

I hope you find this information useful. However, if you are showing any of these symptoms frequently, don't avoid visiting your doctor, as these damages could prove fatal.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.  
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