A small hiatal hernia may cause no discomfort at all, but if the hernia is large, it can cause acid reflux, heartburn, and chest pain so severe it can be confused with a heart attack. There are two main types of hiatal hernia. One type may be a cause for serious concern, even when no symptoms are present, because complications can arise in which the blood supply is cut off to the stomach.
Vadim Gritsus, M.D. is a New Jersey general surgeon certified by the American Board of Surgery with extensive experience in minimally invasive general surgery procedures. If hiatal hernia surgery is needed, Dr. Gritsus can perform an advanced laparoscopic procedure with only a few small incisions in the abdomen. Minimally invasive, laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair uses smaller incisions for less scarring and pain, less risk of infection, and an easier, faster recovery.
What Is a Hiatal Hernia?
The diaphragm is the muscular, dome-shaped partition between the thorax (upper body between the neck and abdomen) and the abdomen. The diaphragm has a small opening called the hiatus through which the esophagus (food tube) passes to connect with the stomach. A hiatal hernia occurs when the stomach pushes upward through this opening in the diaphragm.
A large hiatal hernia can let food and acid back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and acid reflux. In some cases, this condition can be treated with medications to relieve the symptoms. If the hernia is very large, however, surgery may be needed to repair it.
Types of Hiatal Hernia
The most common type of hiatal hernia is known as Type I, or “sliding hiatal hernia.” Approximately 95% of hiatal hernias are this type, in which the gastroesophageal junction protrudes abnormally into the chest cavity.
The Type II hiatal hernia, also known as a paraesophageal hernia, occurs when a portion of the stomach squeezes up through the hiatus. Surgery is sometimes recommended to correct this condition because the stomach can become “strangled,” with its blood supply cut off.
Seeking Emergency Medical Attention
A strangulated hiatal hernia is a medical emergency. If you have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia and experience the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- Severe chest or abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
These symptoms may indicate an obstruction or a strangulated hernia. You may require emergency medical treatment and surgery to reduce the hernia (put it back in place).
New Jersey Hiatal Hernia Surgeon
Vadim Gritsus, M.D. has been practicing general surgery in New Jersey since 2003. He is recognized as a leader in the most advanced, minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgeries, with an emphasis on a gentle, tissue-sparing approach to reduce pain and enhance recovery.
If hiatal hernia surgery has been recommended for you, or you would like to find out if you need it, call our office for a consultation with Dr. Gritsus. He will be happy to answer your questions, address your concerns, and advise you of your best treatment options.