Recovery after unilateral phrenic injury associated with coronary artery revascularization

Chest. 1990 Sep;98(3):661-6. doi: 10.1378/chest.98.3.661.


Hemidiaphragmatic paralysis occurs in some patients following CAB surgery, possibly related to an intraoperative stretch or cold-induced phrenic injury. To determine the time and extent of recovery of phrenic nerve function, we studied five patients with left phrenic paresis or paralysis after CAB. The FVC, FEV1, Pmax and PEmax pressures, latency of conduction and amplitude of CDAP with phrenic nerve stimulation, and diaphragmatic excursion during fluoroscopy were measured for 12 months after CAB. Left phrenic paralysis was substantiated in four of five patients, and paresis was present in the other patient. Recovery of the left phrenic nerve occurred in all patients, complete in one and partial in four, but was delayed and continued for up to 12 months. We conclude that phrenic nerve recovery is delayed after CAB-associated injury and may be incomplete up to 14 months later, in keeping with rates of regeneration of other peripheral nerves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Aged
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / adverse effects*
  • Diaphragm / physiopathology
  • Electromyography
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Functional Residual Capacity
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction
  • Phrenic Nerve / injuries*
  • Phrenic Nerve / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Paralysis / etiology
  • Respiratory Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Vital Capacity