A hiatal hernia is a common condition in which the upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm. It is caused due to weakened muscle tissue. The upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm. Most commonly the symptoms are heartburn, belching and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Medications and lifestyle changes often help alleviate symptoms but surgery is sometimes required for the actual repair of the hiatal hernia.
Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia:
The symptoms of hiatal hernia are primarily attributed to gastro- esophageal reflux disease (GERD) which is essentially the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus. Such symptoms include: heartburn, sour or bitter taste in mouth or throat, chest pain/discomfort, abdominal pain that is often accompanied by vomiting.
Treatments for Hiatal Hernia:
Medication: Antacids (like Tums) which help neutralize the stomach acids, H-2 Receptor blockers( like Ranitidine) which limits production of stomach acids or Proton Pump Inhibitors (like Omeprazole) which blocks acid production longer than the H-2 blockers.
Lifestyle changes: weight loss, eating 5-6 smaller meals per day as opposed to 3 large ones, avoiding spicy, citrus, fried foods, alcohol, chocolate and smoking cessation, sleeping with head elevated, etc
Surgery: Surgery is recommended if : -Symptoms interfere with Quality of Life -Symptoms do not respond to other treatments -The hernia is at risk of being strangulated, which is a dangerous situation where the blood supply to the herniated tissue is cut off -Bleeding, Ulcers, or Narrowing of the esophagus (food pipe), which is known as an esophageal stricture.
Hiatal Hernia Recovery Time:
Dr. Minkin uses a minimally invasive, laparoscopic technique. Therefore, most patients will not experience much pain however it is not uncommon to have some discomfort in the abdomen, chest, or some difficulty swallowing which usually resolves within 48 hours. Most patients are able to go home the same day as surgery or within 23 hours if they have recovered from the anesthetic. You should be able to walk around the day after surgery. We do advise avoiding heavy lifting (over 15 pounds) for two weeks, and avoiding driving for 2-3 days. Most patients are able to return to work after one week. You will need to follow a specific diet after surgery which includes liquids for the day of surgery and day after, followed by foods of baby food/pureed consistency for the next 3 days then a soft diet for the next week. After that, a normal diet may resume.
Please note that if a Hiatal Hernia is diagnosed prior or found at the time of your Bariatric procedure, Dr. Minkin will repair the hiatal hernia at that time of your surgery.