A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the stomach from the chest. A hiatal hernia may weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle that opens and closes when food passes into the stomach. A weakened LES leads to acid reflux and possibly GERD.
Most people with a hiatal hernia do not experience any symptoms. Causes of hiatal hernia include:
GERD symptoms that accompany hiatal hernia should be evaluated.
Hiatal hernias do not often require treatment. However, the hernia may cut off blood supply, in which case surgery is necessary. Your gastroenterologist will work closely with you to determine the best treatment option for your situation.
The experts at the UK Digestive Health Program's Heartburn Clinic can diagnose and surgically treat hiatal hernia. This multidisciplinary clinic allows patients to see a gastroenterologist and a surgeon in one visit, if needed. Specialists work together to offer patients the most up-to-date information on the latest diagnosis and treatment methods. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 1-800-333-8874 for an appointment.