Here are answers to some of your questions about hiatal hernia.

What is a hiatal hernia?

A hiatal hernia is a protrusion of the upper part of the stomach into the chest through an opening or weakness in the diaphragm. There are two major types of hiatal hernias:

  1. Sliding Hernia
  2. By far the most common, a sliding hiatal hernia occurs when the connection between the esophagus and the stomach moves above the diaphragm, together with some of the stomach (sliding up into the chest).

  3. Paraesophageal Hernias
  4. The paraesophageal hiatus hernia occurs when a part of the stomach protrudes through the hole in which the esophagus passes through the diaphragm. The hernia then lies beside the esophagus. Paraesophageal hernias tend to progress in size over time and can lead to the protrusion of other abdominal organs into the chest.


If not treated, what can happen?

The main symptom of a hiatal hernia is reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus, which can lead to heartburn. Hiatal hernia is one of the underlying causes of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), because it can cause chronic heartburn. Besides discomfort from GERD and some difficulty with swallowing, larger hiatal hernias, especially the paraesophageal type, can result in the severe consequence of the stomach having its blood supply shut off.

How will the physician know if I have hiatal hernia?

Because the hernia is protruding into the chest rather than through the abdominal wall, there is no telltale bulge, therefore, diagnosis of a hiatal hernia requires upper GI endoscopy, a barium swallow study, a CT scan or an MRI.


How can this hernia be treated?

In some patients, a hiatal hernia is asymptomatic and no specific treatment is required. Sliding hiatal hernias that present with GERD symptoms are most often treated with medications such as antacids, histamine-2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. For paraesophageal hernias, as well as sliding hernias that become very large, surgical repair can be done. Various minimally invasive techniques are used to address this type of hernia.

To make an appointment with one of our surgeons at the Beth Israel Hernia Center, please call 212.844.1555, or click here to fill out an appointment scheduling form. Staff will get back to you within
48 hours.

If you have questions about the Hernia Center and our doctors please email them to herniacenterny@chpnet.org.
We are glad to answer your questions but please do not send pictures of your hernia to the center.

For Appointment Call
212.844.1555


Questions
If you have questions
about the Hernia Center
and our doctors please email them to herniacenterny@chpnet.org

We are glad to answer your questions but please do not send pictures of your hernia to the center.