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  • Guang Chen

My doc says I have a "hiatus hernia", do I need an operation to fix this?

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

Hiatus hernia is actually a medical misnomer because it is not a "true" hernia. Let's begin with the normal anatomy of the stomach. The stomach is a muscular organ that stores and digests food after swallowing. For the majority of people, the stomach sits in the mid/left upper part of the abdomen (tummy) below the diaphragm (the main breathing muscle that separates the chest and abdomen).

In about 20-30% of people, the upper part of the stomach may protrude above the diaphragm. This configuration is called a hiatus hernia. Depending on how much and which parts of the stomach protrude through, we give each of these a different name. Sliding hiatus hernias are more common than para-esophageal hiatus hernias.

The majority of people do not know they have a hiatus hernia because they have no symptoms. Hiatus hernias are often found on a barium swallow or endoscopy when investigating other symptoms or conditions. In a small number of patients, hiatus hernia can be associated with a range of symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, reflux and pain. Your doctor/specialist may need further tests. Often there are medications to help with your symptoms. In rare cases, an operation may be necessary. Your specialist will discuss this with you in detail.

Note: This post is for educational and entertainment purposes. For specific advice regarding your health and treatment, please speak to your doctor or specialist.

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