What Is a Hiatal Hernia?
When a part inside your body protrudes into a spot where it normally should not be, a bulge, or herniation, occurs.
A hiatal hernia is a condition that occurs when a portion of your stomach pushes up through your hiatus — the upper opening in your diaphragm that connects your esophagus to your stomach. A hiatal hernia is also sometimes called a paraesophageal hernia depending on the amount of stomach and other tissue which are through the hiatus. Some patients get this condition due to weakness in their diaphragm or increased pressure in their abdomen for various reasons.
How do I know if I have a Hiatal Hernia?
Patients with a hiatal hernia often will present with symptoms consistent with GERD. These symptoms tend to not respond to lifestyle changes or medications. Hiatal hernias can also lead to uncomfortable symptoms that may only be resolved with hiatal hernia repair surgery which include atypical symptoms of GERD including coughing, belching, chest pain, and sneezing after a meal. A patient usually undergoes testing to confirm the diagnosis which may include endoscopy, x-rays and various other tests.
What Hiatal Hernia Treatment Options are Available?
Initially lifestyle changes are made to manage symptoms of a hiatal hernia. Over-the-counter antacids may provide on-demand relief of acid reflux, while prescription medications known as proton pump inhibitors are also used to both block stomach acid production and promote healing of acid-damaged esophageal tissue. When these hiatal hernia treatments do not provide effective symptom relief or prevent complications, surgical hiatal hernia repair may be required.
How Does Hiatal Hernia Repair Surgery Work?
Surgery to fix a hiatal hernia or paraesophageal hernia involves reducing the stomach back into the abdomen and out of the chest. Hiatal hernia surgery also involves tightening the opening of your diaphragm to prevent your stomach from returning back into your chest.
What Are My Options for Repair?
Traditionally a surgical hiatal hernia repair was performed through a large surgical incision made on your chest or upper abdomen. This meant having multiple stitches and experiencing a significant amount of post-operative pain and a long hospital stay.
At LifeWeigh Bariatrics, we specialize in minimally invasive techniques including the laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication for patients who need surgical hiatal hernia repair. Also sometimes called a Lap Nissen, this procedure is performed laparoscopically – that means we access the surgical site through a number of small incisions known as ports. This technique dramatically reduces the amount of post-surgical discomfort you can expect to experience, eliminates the need for a long incision, and leads to faster recovery times than open surgery.
If you qualify, sometimes patients with large hiatal hernias or paraesophageal hernias may qualify for an endoscopic and laparoscopic repair without some of the negative side effects of a Nissen fundoplication called the TIF (Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication) procedure. This procedure is performed by the surgeon performing the hiatal hernia repair as well as a gastroenterologist or endoscopist performing the TIF portion of the procedure at the same time.
Am I A Candidate For Hiatal Hernia Repair?
Prior to considering having a surgical hiatal hernia repair such as a Nissen fundoplication procedure, your doctor will usually recommend non-surgical hiatal hernia treatment using a combination of dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and medications.
If you have been unable to achieve sustained relief from hiatal hernia symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux, chest pain, and shortness of breath using medications and other treatments, you may be a candidate for a hiatal hernia repair.
Contact Us for More Information
To learn more about minimally-invasive laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair using Nissen fundoplication or TIF contact us here at LifeWeigh Bariatrics in Downers Grove and Hazel Crest, IL. Our team of highly skilled laparoscopic surgeons, nurse practitioners, and dieticians have extensive experience in treating surgical hiatal hernia patients. Our team is designed to provide lasting relief from the pain and discomfort of a hiatal hernia.