Since one of the most common symptoms of a hiatal hernia is heartburn, many people often neglect treatment in the beginning because they just attribute it to acid indigestion. As time goes on and the symptoms persist and become much more intense, a diagnosis is usually in order. If the diagnosis is ‘hiatal hernia’ there are different ways of treating the condition usually based on the how far advanced the hernia is. Sometimes the treatment can be as simple as lifestyle changes with or without medications and other times treatment will require hiatal hernia surgery.
Why Is Hiatal Hernia Surgery Necessary?
A hiatal hernia is actually referring to a condition that is quite common in those people suffering from GERD. This is where the connection between the esophagus and the stomach (gastroesophageal junction) becomes weakened from chronic acid reflux. Instead of being located below the diaphragm and above the stomach, the junction is sometimes pushed up above the diaphragm and the stomach also begins to twist up into the esophagus if left untreated for long periods. This can be extremely dangerous, so to prevent this happening, surgery is required to repair the junction and stitch it back where it belongs.
Laparoscopic Hiatal Hernia Surgery
This type of surgery is often referred to as Nissen Fundoplication hiatal hernia surgery and it can be performed outpatient, however some doctors do admit patients under certain conditions. Usually the patient is under general anesthesia when the surgery takes place. Small incisions are made in the abdomen, approximately 1 cm, through which instruments and the fiberoptic laparoscope are inserted. The entire operation is conducted with these tiny instruments. At the end, the incisions are sutured and the patient is brought into recovery until the roused from sedation.
Laparoscopic Hiatal Hernia Surgery Recovery
Unlike hiatal hernia surgery of days gone by, the laparoscopic hiatal hernia surgery recovery time is usually significantly reduced because the incisions are so small. The amount of time a patient needs to spend in the hospital is usually based on the extent of the damage which had been repaired and of course, the patient’s natural ability to heal. Some patients just heal faster than others! However, with that being said, some doctors will keep you in the hospital a few days up to a week or a week and a half.
Hiatal Hernia Surgery Complications
As with any surgery, there is always the risk of complications, but usually hiatal hernia surgery complications will gradually subside. In some cases they may become permanent and in other cases the complications may require additional surgeries to correct the situation. For example, painful swallowing, burping and vomiting are the most common complications and also those that will eventually resolve themselves as the patient heals. However, certain complications such as a pneumothorax (air around the lungs), internal organ damage or infections bleeding may require additional surgeries and/or medications to correct the problem.
Hiatal Hernia Surgery Success Rate
Although it is difficult to put a number on the hiatal hernia surgery success rate as all people are different and all cases can be more or less severe, the success rate for this surgery which is minimally invasive is usually between 90% and 95%. In those rare cases when the patient experiences chronic complications, the actual success rate is reduced because the complications interfere with the patient’s ultimate recovery. This is something you would want to discuss with your surgeon because the prognosis for full recovery is based on the extent of damage being repaired.
In fact, if you have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia that requires surgery your doctor will most likely provide you with literature that you can use to familiarize yourself with both the illness and the surgery. Since this condition is quite often associated with GERD, early detection of gastroesophageal reflux disease and treatments with proton pump inhibitors may just be the prevention needed to avoid a hiatal hernia. In any case, if you find that you are experiencing acid reflux more than twice a week, it is truly time to see your doctor.