Dome-shaped muscular and membranous structure between the thoracic and abdominal cavities. The principal muscle used in respiration, it is also important in coughing, vomiting, excretion, and other expulsive functions. Spasms of the diaphragm produce hiccups. The aorta passes behind the diaphragm; the inferior vena cava and esophagus pass through it. Protrusion of part of the stomach above the diaphragm is called a hiatal hernia.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on diaphragm, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up diaphragm? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More