A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest region. Approximately 15 percent of the population in the United States has a hiatal hernia. Sometimes hiatal hernias are diagnosed in infants, but most are diagnosed in adults and are suspected to have developed over time.
There are two types of hiatal hernias: sliding and para-esophageal.
Sliding hiatal hernias
Sliding hiatal hernias, the most common type, occur when the area where the esophagus and the stomach join (gastro-esophageal junction) and a portion of the stomach protrude into the chest. In some cases, this area permanently protrudes into the chest and in other cases it happens only during swallowing.
Para-esophageal hiatal hernias
In the case of a para-esophageal hernia, the gastro-esophageal junction remains in its normal location, but part of the stomach protrudes into the chest next to the esophagus. The para-esophageal hernia always remains in the chest and is not affected by swallowing.
If a para-esophageal hiatal hernia is large enough, it may press against the esophagus and hinder food from freely passing down the esophagus and into the stomach. Sometimes, ulcers form from the irritation caused by the food that gets stuck in the esophagus.
At Yale Bariatric/Gastrointestinal Surgery, our innovative surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures, many of which are at the leading edge of gastrointestinal surgery, in order to treat hiatal hernias. Our multidisciplinary team works collectively to create personalized treatment plans that provide the best options for each patient, reflecting his or her specific condition and individual needs.