Hiatal hernias occur when the stomach slides up from the abdominal cavity into the chest, potentially causing acid reflux and pain. Medications are often effective at controlling the symptoms however surgery is an option when medications aren’t working well, or when patients don’t want to be on acid-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives. Dr. Farrow has extensive experience determining which Hiatal hernias should be repaired and can fix these Hiatal hernias with minimally invasive techniques to make recovery fast and easy. Get back to being you!
A hernia of any nature occurs when tissue pushes through an opening into an area that it shouldn’t be. With a hiatal hernia, the stomach pushes through an opening called the hiatus, which connects your abdomen to your chest cavity.
There are two main types of hiatal hernia, sliding hiatal hernia and paraesophageal hernia, which is where only a portion of the stomach emerges through the hiatus. While both can present problems, a sliding hiatal hernia is much more common, while a paraesophageal hernia can cause more serious complications.
Many people with hiatal hernias don’t experience any symptoms, and in such cases treatment may not be necessary. However, some people with hiatal hernias can experience symptoms similar to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This can cause uncomfortable symptoms, including:
In addition, paraesophageal hernias can cause the blood supply to your stomach to become cut off, causing a more serious condition.
A hiatal hernia can occur in anybody, but you’re at a greater risk of developing the condition if you’re overweight. In addition, those who are over 50 have an increased risk, as do women.
There are several reasons why surgery to correct a hiatal hernia may be the right choice for you. The most common indication for surgery if when your acid medication isn’t working well enough to control your GERD symptoms. Also, many patients don’t want to take medication for the rest of their lives due to concern for side effects of the medications or risk of long term complications from acid-lowering medications. Some patients have large hernias that cause bleeding or are at high risk for incarceration (getting stuck)- these hernias often require surgical repair before the condition worsens.
For patients that develop symptoms of GERD with a hiatal hernia or other complications from a paraesophageal hernia, a simple operation can help. Surgery can restore the normal mechanisms that prevent acid from reaching the esophagus by reducing the hernia and repairing the hiatus. Normally this includes a fundoplication where the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus. This operation has been safe and effective for more than 100 years but often required a large incision.
Usually, people who undergo this surgery are able to return home the same day, and full recovery is possible within several weeks, although heavy lifting and eating certain foods should be avoided until Dr. Farrow deems it appropriate. Most patients find the surgery transforms their lives for the better; they are able to eat the foods they love, drink caffeine, sleep better, and improve their lifestyle.
To learn more about hernia repair, schedule a consultation with Dr. Farrow online or by phone today.