A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach moves into the chest through a small natural opening in the diaphragm. This can cause frequent regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, and refractory heartburn. In severe cases (large paraesophageal hernias) when most of the stomach herniates into the chest cavity, loss of blood supply to the stomach may happen, creating a surgical emergency.
Surgical repair of a hiatal hernia involves tightening the diaphragm opening and wrapping the top part of the stomach very loosely around the lower esophagus at the location of the lower esophageal sphincter. This prevents acids and food from flowing backwards from the stomach into the esophagus by restoring the function of the weakened lower esophageal sphincter. The operation is performed in minimally invasive fashion (laparoscopically or robotically), with quick recovery and good control of reflux symptoms. Most patients do not require anti-acid medication anymore after this operation.
If you have been diagnosed with a Hiatal/Paraesophageal Hernia, schedule a consultation with Dr. Panait or Dr. Kudav to learn more about treatment options and possible surgery.