A hiatus hernia is when part of your stomach moves up into your chest. It’s very common if you’re over 50. It does not normally need treatment if it’s not causing you problems.
Who commonly presents with it?
Any person can present with an hiatus hernia but it is more common in men and has a strong association with obesity. It’s not clear what causes a hiatus hernia. Anyone can have one, but it’s more common if you’re over 50, pregnant or overweight.
How does it present?
An hiatus hernia is usually asymptomatic (you can have a hiatus hernia without knowing and without it being a problem) but can sometimes also present with:
a painful burning feeling in your chest, often after eating (heartburn)
bringing up small amounts of food or bitter-tasting fluids (acid reflux)
bad breath, burping and/or feeling bloated
feeling or being sick
have difficulty or pain when swallowing
What can be done?
If relatively asymptomatic they can be left alone. Keyhole surgery is usually used for a hiatus hernia. This involves making small cuts in your tummy (abdomen). Surgery is performed under general anaesthetic, so you’ll be asleep during the operation.
After surgery, it usually takes:
2 to 3 days to go home
3 to 6 weeks to go back to work
6 weeks before you can eat what you want
a few months to recover from side effects like bloating, burping, farting and difficulty swallowing
There’s a small risk (about 1 in 100) that your side effects will not go away and you’ll need more surgery.
How long will your recovery take?
Recovery is usuall quite quick, with most patients being discharged from hospital on the same day or day following surgery. Complete recovery is based on individual needs and fitness of the patient. Patients are encouraged to start mobilising gently immediately after surgery and refrain from lifting heavy objects for at least one week. A return to full activities is expected within two weeks.
What are the main risks of surgery?
Your surgeon will advise on any specific complications and risks. For all types of surgery there is always a risk of wound infection and a 1-2% risk of recurrence of the hernia.
What Our Patients Say
Epigastric Hernia patient
"After successfully undergoing an operation at the Alexandra Hospital for my epigastric hernia, I know I should make the time to explain how grateful I am to you for making such a significant difference to the quality of my life. Most pleasing has been how easily things have been corrected despite me having left it far too long before seeking your help. Thank you."