Hiatal Hernia Repair

Hiatal Hernia: What is going on in the body?

Separating the abdomen and chest cavity is a wall of muscle known as the diaphragm. The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes to connect to the stomach. Oftentimes, a hiatal hernia exists and there are no clear cut symptoms. It is important to know what to look out for in case the hiatal hernia becomes cut-off from its blood supply and is essentially strangled.

Is there one particular cause of hiatal hernias? Some hiatal hernias are caused by injury to the area. Speculation also exists that there are just some people born with a larger hiatus. Pregnancy and obesity are also known to contribute to pressures in the abdomen which cause hiatal hernia. Occasionally, straining to have a bowel movement or coughing can result in similar pressures. The good news is that regardless of exact cause, Dr. Sean Yuan in Pottstown, PA works with his patients to find solutions.

Risk Factors, Signs, and Surgery

While anyone can get a hiatal hernia, there are a few factors that put people at risk. Women affected tend to outnumber men, but those over 50 are also more prone to hiatal hernias. One additional risk factor individuals actually have the ability to change is obesity. Dr. Yuan may use endoscopy or a specialized x-ray with a barium swallow to see whether surgery is necessary.

There are signs and symptoms to be aware of that may indicate it is time for surgery. If heartburn is a persistent problem and is accompanied by chest or abdominal pain, it is time to visit the doctor. Even excessive belching or difficulty swallowing warrant a check-up. Of course, blood in vomit or black stools can mean there is gastrointestinal bleeding. If unsure, the dedicated staff at Potts Surgical Associates will provide guidance.

Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Surgery

The laparoscope is a device used to transmit pictures of internal organs to a monitor. It is inserted through small incisions (5-10mm) to provide access to the affected area. Surgical instruments are also inserted through the incisions. This surgical method has many advantages, of which rapid recovery is on top of the list. Smaller incisions help decrease risk of infection and result in less pain and scarring.

How quick is recovery?

Generally speaking, patients are up and about within a day. It takes about a week to be ready for normal activities, but there are often no dietary restrictions. It only takes about two to three weeks to recover fully. Patients should avoid hard labor and heavy lifting for approximately three months to minimize risk of reoccurrence.

Because Dr. Yuan is a Bariatric Surgeon who specializes in weight loss management, he is well versed in correcting hiatal hernias. Weight is the only risk factor of the three that patients can change with guidance and support. Dr. Yuan sees patients through many hurdles, like hiatal hernias, that accompany extra weight. His goal is to help people reach a new version of healthy.

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