Presentation and management of Morgagni hernias in adults: a review of 298 cases

Surg Endosc. 2008 Jun;22(6):1413-20. doi: 10.1007/s00464-008-9754-x. Epub 2008 Mar 18.


Background: Morgagni hernias are a very rare form of diaphragmatic hernias. No robust studies have been performed to show the true natural history of this disease process. This study aimed to summarize clinically relevant data with respect to Morgagni hernias in adults. These data should help surgeons workup, diagnose, and treat Morgagni hernias in adult patients.

Methods: A literature search was performed using PubMed, Google scholar, and the following key words: Morgagni, Larrey, retrosternal, retrocostoxiphal, retrochondrosternal, parasternal, substernal, anterior diaphragmatic, and subcostosternal. All case reports and series after 1951 that pertained to adults were included in the review. The following data points were queried: age, sex, presentation, studies used during workup, laterality, surgical approach, hernia sac management, specific laparoscopic techniques, and follow-up evaluation.

Results: These criteria were met by 135 articles representing 298 patients. Based on the data provided, several conclusions regarding this disease process can be drawn. Most patients (72%) present with symptoms related to their hernia. Pulmonary complaints are the most common symptoms (36%). Men present earlier in life than women. Thoracotomy is the most widely used surgical approach (49%). However, laparoscopic repair has gained popularity since its first report in 1992. Laparoscopic surgeons usually repair the defect with mesh (64%) and do not remove the hernia sac (69%). Laparoscopic repair can be performed with a low complication rate (5%) and a short hospital stay (3 days). Outcomes of other surgical approaches also are reported.

Conclusions: Using modern surgical techniques including laparoscopy, repair of Morgagni hernia can be performed safely with a short hospital stay and with little morbidity or mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / epidemiology
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / methods*
  • Length of Stay / trends
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Prosthesis Implantation / instrumentation
  • Surgical Mesh
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Thoracotomy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome