Hiatal hernias are also known as paraesophageal hernias. This situation happens when a small part of patient’s stomach bulges through their diaphragm creating a tear. As such, over time, the hiatal hernia becomes larger and it causes the stomach to start to rise farther into the chest area causing a painful sensation after eating and in some cases weight loss and even bleeding. This medical condition can create a major cause of uncomfortable reflux and heartburn, digestive distress, ulcers and serious quality of life issues also known as GERD. Typically without bariatric surgery, this is why large hiatal hernias generally require surgery to solve the discomfort and symptoms caused by the hernia. If you factor in a patient that has a bariatric procedure such as a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, then, even a small hiatal hernia needs to be repaired as will be discussed below.
Doctors may also suggest that patients have their hiatal hernias fixed when the hernia is at risk of becoming strangulated. This happens when the blood supply to the herniated tissue is cut off and becomes a medical emergency.
It is important to know that small asymptomatic hiatal hernias do not usually need treatment as long as you do not have a weight loss surgery. Life changes and medication should be enough to treat small hiatal hernias. However, patients need to let their doctor know if they are experiencing serious heartburn and acid reflux or having inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus because of the hernia. If the hernia causes severe symptoms or is likely to cause complications then it may require surgery.
When Hiatal hernia surgery is done correctly, the hernia should not recur again, otherwise, further medical treatment would be more complex and required.
There are several benefits to repairing a patient’s hiatal hernia such as:
- Patients would again enjoy meals
- Patient would enjoy life without pain and discomfort
- No heartburn or reflux
- Less chance of esophageal cancer caused by reflux
- Among other benefits.
What do patients need to know about a hiatal hernia repair? With a hiatal hernia repair, the surgeon using keyhole surgery known as laparoscopy inserts a laparoscope, which includes a light and a camera into the abdomen area and trocars to repair the hernia. Normally this is done through a stitching technique. The surgery is minimally invasive. This is also a safe procedure with less risk of infection, less painful and its recovery is quicker.
Patients that undergo weight loss surgery such as the gastric sleeve or the gastric bypass many times have hiatal hernias that they either know about or do not. One of the main symptoms of a hiatal hernia being present is the reflux or Gerd we have discussed above. When you undergo a bariatric surgery it is important for the surgeon to always repair a hiatal hernia no matter the size, small or large, as the new pouch or stomach can get stuck in the hernia and this will lead to a lot of problems after your weight loss procedure. If the doctor does not repair it, you can have a delayed leak, or even blockage. The hiatal hernia repair during weight loss surgery is minimally invasive and may extend your surgery by about 20 to 30 minutes. The overall benefit however will help the patient have many fewer issues post-surgery with regards to dealing with the hiatal hernia or reflux they may have had.
It is also good to know that most people will not experience much pain after a hiatal hernia repair; the patient might feel discomfort in their abdomen and chest or difficulties swallowing and the patient will feel more pressure rather than pain. Note however, these symptoms will disappear following the correct post up instructions and recommendations suggested by the surgeon usually in around 5 to 7 days.
For more information regarding Clinics/ Hospitals and Weight Loss Options mentioned in this article:
Weight Loss Team – Bariatric Surgery Center at the CMQ Hospitals in Puerto Vallarta.
Telephone: Toll free 1(800) 404-9064 or + 1(818) 949-6911