Hiatus Hernia – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosing, Treatment
A hiatus hernia is a condition developed when the upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the abdomen and chest. It has a small opening through which the food tube passes and connecting to the stomach. In a hiatus hernia, the stomach pushes up through the opening in the diaphragm and bulges into the chest. The bulging of stomach to the chest can cause food and acid going up into the esophagus causing heartburn.
Symptoms of hiatus hernia
- Backflow of food and liquids into the mouth
- Backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
A hiatus hernia may be caused by:
- Age-related changes in the muscles of the diaphragm
- Injury to the area after trauma or surgery
- Birth defects with an unusually large hiatus
- Persistent and intense pressure on the surrounding muscles of the diaphragm
Diagnosing Hiatus Hernia
Endoscopic examination of the esophagus and the stomach will diagnose the condition. Other test includes x-ray with dye of the upper digestive system and esophageal manometry to measure the rhythmic muscle contractions and coordination and force exerted by the muscles of the esophagus when food is swallowed.
Medications are prescribed to ease the symptoms including recurrent heartburn, acid refluxes and to reduce acid production. Medication along with lifestyle modification is necessary:
- Consume several smaller meals rather than a few large meals
- Avoid fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, and caffeine that trigger heartburn
- Avoid lying down right after a meal
- Have the dinner at least two to three hours before bedtime.
- Maintain a healthy weight or reduce the excess weight
- Stop smoking and alcohol consumption
- Elevate the head end of bed while lying
- Perform any kind of physical activity or exercises at least 5 days a week
Options include pulling back the bulged stomach into the abdomen and reconstructing an esophageal sphincter.
Open Method: Less preferred due to difficulty to perform and severe pain the patient will experience later.
Laparoscopic Repair of Hiatus Hernia
It is the gold standard treatment for hiatus hernia with excellent result as the cuts are very small and handling of intestines is very minimal. If required 3 days of hospitalization and the procedure is done under general anesthesia. Short period of reduced activity is recommended – maybe for 10 days.
The patient can have soft diet initially and then normal diet in 2 weeks’ time. The patient may have to continue antacid drugs for a month or so.
Hiatus Hernia – Stomach View
Hiatus Hernia – Wide Hiatus
Esophagus with Vagus Nerve – seen on monitor through laparoscope on repair of Hiatal Hernia
Hiatus Hernia Repair – Hiatus Opening Closed
Fundoplication – Stomach wrap around Esophagus
Hiatus Hernia Treatment in India
Keyhole Clinic, Metro Pillar No. 448, Edappally, Kochi, Kerala
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