Hiatus Hernia Causes
Unlike most hernias, a hiatus hernia does not occur within the abdominal wall, but within the chest area and affects the digestive system specifically.
‘Hiatus’ means ‘gap’ or ‘hole’ (in Greek). The gullet (oesophagus) is the passage that transports food from the mouth to the stomach. To get there it has to pass through a hole in a flat sheet of muscle that separates the chest (containing your lungs and heart) from your abdomen (where your stomach should live). Sometimes this hole enlarges and the top of the stomach passes upwards into the chest – this is called a hiatus hernia.
There are two types of Hiatus Hernia:
- Sliding hiatus hernia (80% of all cases) – hernias that move up and down, in and out of the chest area.
- Rolling hernia (20% of all cases) – where part of the stomach pushes up through the hole in the diaphragm next to the oesophagus.
Hiatus Hernia Symptoms:
Unlike an abdominal hernia, a hiatus hernia rarely produces symptoms. This can make them particularly difficult to diagnose. However, if you do experience any symptoms they are likely to be as below.
- Stomach acid
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Air entering the oesophagus
Symptoms May Be Triggered By:
- Foods or drink that is too hot
- Spicy food
- Acidic food
- Alcohol consumption
Hiatus Hernia Treatment
The difficult part about fixing a hiatus hernia is that you can’t just close off the hole as a small gap must remain for the gullet to pass through.
Hiatus hernia surgery is usually done laparoscopically. Traditionally surgeons would use the ‘wrap around’ method, but now more and more are turning to procedures that involve mesh. Mesh repair is extremely technical and can be tricky to get right . The aim of the repair is to narrow the opening just the right amount. If the opening is left too wide the repair won’t prevent a further hiatal hernia. If the hole is closed too far, the smooth transportation of food down the gullet will be impaired . Alternative treatment can be provided to ease symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn for which medications may be provided.
Our Specialist Hiatus Hernia Consultants
At London Hernia our world-renowned Consultants have a wealth of experience treating hiatus hernias. They provide you with expert advice and the best possible treatment, should it be required.