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 .