A hiatal hernia is categorised as a benign gastro-oesophageal disorder. Our first role is to help you understand the condition, discuss your treatment options and make sure that you benefit from our many years experience as surgeons and dietitians, to provide excellent clinical outcomes and to support you with genuine patient care.
What is a hiatal hernia?
Understanding a hiatus or hiatal hernia
To understand what a hiatal hernia is, it is important to understand the oesophagus. The oesophagus or “food pipe” is a muscular tube that begins in our upper neck. It runs downwards into the chest and then across the abdomen, through a hiatus (another word for opening). That opening sits in a muscle structure that separates the chest from the abdomen, and it is the shape of a dome.
Now once the oesophagus crosses the opening, it empties the food into the stomach, right below the hiatus.
So what is a hiatal hernia? It's a condition where the muscles of this hiatus (diaphragm) have become weakened and “stretched”. So as a result, the opening gets larger and organs can slip upwards into the chest cavity (stomach, spleen or intestines).
What are the symptoms of a hiatal hernia?
A hiatus hernia will not always produce clear symptoms. It is even possible to have no symptoms at all. With a larger hiatal hernia, you may experience excessive reflux and heartburn. Other patients mention difficulty in swallowing and even chest pain.
In serious cases, the entire stomach slips into the chest because of the size of the hiatal hernia. It can then cause a 'gastric volvulus' or a twisting, a very uncommon but dangerous condition that requires emergency surgery. The surgery then consists of untwisting the stomach, returning it into its normal position in the abdomen.
How is a hiatal hernia diagnosed?
At The Hernia & Gallbladder Centre WA, your hernia surgeon will first help you understand your diagnosis. It is essential to build on the experience of many years, so we can fully inform you about the surgical options that are available. Your routine tests may include X-rays, CT scan imaging or an endoscopy. Another commonly used test is a barium swallow X-ray which helps gather information.
We know that going through some uncertainty, and waiting for test results, can be stressful. That's why we focus on clear communication, reducing wait times, and organising your care plan so you get the right level of support and care, before, during and after your surgery.
Treatment of a hiatal hernia
Hiatal hernia surgery is most commonly performed using laparoscopic surgery. In brief, this is what is involved:
- Your surgeon returning the slipped stomach back to its normal position in the upper abdomen.
- The surgeon repairs the hiatal hernia using non-absorbable surgical sutures. Sometimes, a “mesh” is used depending on the circumstances, to help strengthen the repair. This is mainly to reduce the risk of recurrence of the hernia.
- “Fundoplication” - this technique uses the upper portion of the stomach (also known as the fundus) to “wrap” it around the lower oesophagus. What that does is re-create a one-way “valve”, reducing reflux after your surgery.
Why The Hernia & Gallbladder Centre WA?
Why would you choose The Hernia & Gallbladder Centre WA in Perth for you hernia repair surgery? We build on our strengths to give each patient the best possible care:
- Our team of experienced Perth surgeons provides expert surgery and has been doing so for many years in the area of hernia repair. We use the latest laparoscopic (minimally invasive) technology and have a long standing track record delivering excellent surgical outcomes.
- You get a personalised and caring experience, not just during your surgery but also as we perform and plan your tests, and as we follow up on you after your procedure. Offering patient comfort in an atmosphere of kindness and trust is extremely important to us.
- It is one of our priorities to reduce your wait time when you need surgery. We go out of our way to ensure that your treatment and care plan is organised in an efficient way, adapted to your life and to your needs.
Please feel free to call The Hernia & Gallbladder Centre on (08) 6163 2800 with any enquiry you may have about hiatal hernia repair surgery.