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Hiatus Hernia

A ‘hiatus hernia’ is also known as a ‘hiatal hernia’ and occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into chest region. It rarely produces noticeable symptoms but it can lead to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). GORD occurs when a hiatus hernia prevents the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus from working properly, causing it to leak stomach acid into the oesophagus. This condition generally occurs in people who are over 50 years old.

As a dedicated hernia centre our expert Consultants specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of hiatus hernias and upper GI conditions.

Hiatus hernia causes

Hiatus hernia treatment

Unlike most hernias, a hiatus hernia does not occur within the abdominal wall, but within the chest area and affects the digestive system specifically.

‘Hiatus’ means ‘gap’ or ‘hole’ (in Greek). The gullet (oesophagus) is the passage that transports food from the mouth to the stomach.  To get there it has to pass through a hole in a flat sheet of muscle that separates the chest (containing your lungs and heart) from your abdomen (where your stomach should live). Sometimes this hole enlarges and the top of the stomach passes upwards into the chest – this is called a hiatus hernia.

There are two types of hiatus hernia:

  • Sliding hiatus hernia (80% of all cases)– hernias that move up and down, in and out of the chest area.
  • Rolling hernia (20% of all cases) – where part of the stomach pushes up through the hole in the diaphragm next to the oesophagus.

Hiatus hernia symptoms

Unlike an abdominal hernia, hiatus hernia rarely produce symptoms. This can make them particularly difficult to diagnose. However, if you do experience any symptoms they are likely to be as below.

  • Bile
  • Stomach acid
  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Belching
  • Air entering the esophagus

Common triggers

  • Too hot foods or drink
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight

Hiatus hernia treatment

The difficult part about fixing a hiatus hernia is that you can’t just close off the hole as a small gap must remain for the gullet to pass through.

Hiatus hernia surgery is usually done laparoscopically. Traditionally surgeons would use the ‘wrap around’ method, but now more and more are turning to procedures that involve mesh. Mesh repair is extremely technical and can be tricky to get right . The aim of the repair is to narrow the opening just the right amount. If the opening is left too wide the repair won’t prevent a further hiatal hernia. If the hole is closed too far the smooth transportation of food down the gullet will impaired . Alternative treatment can be provided to ease symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn for which medications may be provided.

Contact us

Our world-renowned Consultants have a wealth of experience treating hiatus hernias. They provide you with expert advice and the best possible treatment, should it be required.

To ask a question or book an appointment you can contact our team on 020 3370 1014 or email us at londonhernia@hje.org.uk.

Hernia Clinic

The Hernia Unit provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of all hernia types and can offer a number of surgery options depending on the individual needs of each patient.

A patient speaking to a receptionist

Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, our private GP practice and Urgent Care Clinic, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information, get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 3370 1014.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment, and in most cases you will also require a referral letter from your GP.

If you are not registered with a GP, we have an in-house private GP practice you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstances.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRIs, a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

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