Information about Hiatal Hernia Surgery
The esophagus, on its way to the abdomen, passes through a small hole in the diaphragm, called the esophageal hiatus. Normally, the elements surrounding this small hole allow the organs to be held in place.
What can cause a hiatus hernia?
The weakening of this supporting tissue, as well as situations that increase abdominal pressure, favor the progressive migration of the stomach into the thoracic cavity, resulting in a hiatal hernia. Once the barrier between both organs breaks, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, which gets damaged.
How do I know if I have a hiatal hernia?
There are different types of hernia, depending on the way the stomach migrates into the thorax. Symptoms may vary according to the type of hernia, but they generally include pain and burning behind the breastbone, discomfort while eating, feeling of fullness after meals, nocturnal cough or even palpitations or angina-like chest pain. Since most people are unaware of this problem, they mistakenly assume the hiatal hernia is gastritis and self-medicate instead. However, when pain becomes more intense, it is necessary to run some tests.
How is a hiatal hernia diagnosed?
A hiatal hernia can be diagnosed with a specialized X-ray study (esophageal-gastroduodenal transit), even though endoscopy allows the presence of a hiatal hernia to be confirmed. This study is important since it allows taking biopsies of the esophagus, and thus determining the degree of its condition. If the hernia is significant, it is necessary to run some tests before the surgery in order to check for damage to your esophagus from acid reflux.
What is the treatment?
When symptoms are minor and there is no significant reflux, a medical treatment is prescribed as well as modifications to eating habits which will enable the patient to endure the problem.
However, when acid reflux causes changes in the esophageal membrane, surgery is recommended in order to put organs back in their proper place.
Minimally Invasive Techniques
Advances in digital imaging techniques allow this problem to be solved in detail through very small incisions, guaranteeing the success of the surgery. The main advantage of this technique is that recovery is much faster, since patients usually go home and return to normal routine 48 hours after the surgery.
What happens after the surgery?
The changes of those patients with high degree of symptomatology are significant, since they can eat without pain or the discomforts after eating. For this reason, it is advisable for patients experiencing similar symptoms, to see a doctor so as to run the necessary tests and start the best treatment.
What happens if I don’t have surgery?
Stomach acid irritates the esophageal epithelium, to the point at which, over time, it turns into a thicker epithelium, where malignant tumors are more likely to develop.
Advice for patients suffering from Hiatus Hernia:
- Take the necessary time to eat.
- Eat slowly.
- Avoid “mate”, coffee, spicy foods, and alcoholic beverages.
- Do not lie down immediately after eating.
- Raise the head of your bed 15 cm to prevent reflux of stomach contents.
Last Update: 07/20/2010
Note: This information is directed to support and not to replace your doctor opinion.
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