To determine the normal morphologic evolution of the diaphragm with aging and to correlate age-related changes with other indicators of physical condition--such as skeletal muscle status, obesity, presence of pulmonary emphysema, and presence of esophageal hiatus hernia--a systematic morphometric and morphologic evaluation of computed tomographic studies of 120 patients from the 3d to 8th decades of life was undertaken. Diaphragm muscle thickness did not change significantly with increasing age. Diaphragmatic defects and pseudotumors, nonexistent in the 3d and 4th decades, increased in number and severity to affect 56% of the patients in the 7th and 8th decades. Neither the status of the skeletal muscle nor the presence of obesity correlated with age or with the presence of diaphragmatic defects. Eighty-four percent of the patients with emphysematous changes demonstrated diaphragmatic defects; thus, a strong association with emphysema was observed. If emphysematous patients are excluded, defects were more common in women. The esophageal hiatus width was found to increase with age.

Article History

Published in print: 1989