A paraesophageal hernia is a type of hiatal hernia. The condition is less common than other hernia types. You are said to have a paraesophageal hernia when a portion of the stomach moves to settle next to the esophagus. The stomach does this by passing upward through an opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus. The diaphragm is the muscle separating the abdomen and the chest.
What Causes a Paraesophageal Hernia?
Experts are unsure why these rare hernias form. There are risk factors you should be aware of, such as a weakening of the diaphragm muscles that allow the stomach to reside beside the esophagus.
This weakening of the ab muscles can be caused at birth or by aging, traumatic injury to the abdomen, increased abdominal pressure from obesity, pregnancy, and heavy lifting.
What are the Symptoms of a Paraesophageal Hiatal Hernia?
Many people with paraesophageal hernias do not experience any symptoms. Asymptomatic hernias can go unnoticed for years and do not require surgery. If the hernia does lead to symptoms, surgery is needed. Paraesophageal hernia repair surgery will prevent severe symptoms from occurring. One such symptom is when the stomach tissue becomes strangulated, preventing it from reaching its blood supply. Strangulated organs require emergency surgery and can be fatal.
Other symptoms of paraesophageal hernia include heartburn, upper abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, vomiting of blood, black stool, and regurgitation of foods and liquids into the mouth.
When Should You See a Doctor About Paraesophageal Hernia?
If you have severe pain in the chest or abdomen, feel nauseous, experience vomiting, or are unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas, you might have a strangulated hernia. These are all signs you should visit a doctor immediately for a paraesophageal hernia diagnosis.
How is a Paraesophageal Hernia Diagnosed?
Dr. Moeinolmolki uses specialized X-ray imaging to view the esophagus directly. An endoscopy may also be used to view the hernia.
How is Laparoscopic Paraesophageal Hernia Performed?
This safe, minimally invasive surgery begins with general anesthesia. Once you are prepped and anesthetized for surgery, a few tiny incisions are made along the abdomen. These incisions function as openings for the laparoscopic camera and other surgical instruments.
The laparoscope has a light and tiny camera attached that allows Dr. Moein to view the internal structure of your abdomen on a nearby monitor.
During surgery, the herniated portion of your stomach is repositioned into place. The hiatal opening in the diaphragm is then stitched closed to prevent the hernia from recurring.
In some cases, the stomach doesn’t want to stay in place. Dr. Moein will recommend fundoplication at that time, which involves wrapping the top portion of the stomach (fundus) around the bottom of the esophagus. This extra step will keep the stomach stabilized to keep it from re-herniating.
What are the Benefits of Laparoscopic Paraesophageal Hernia Surgery?
There are several benefits to the surgical intervention of this less common hiatal hernia. There are smaller incisions and shorter recovery when compared to open surgeries. You also get less pain, less scarring, and less risk of infection.
What is Recovery Like for Laparoscopic Paraesophageal Hernia Surgery?
You will typically return home the same day after having surgery. You can plan on spending four to six weeks in recovery. During that time, Dr. Moein will advise you to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise.
Ready to Discuss Paraesophageal Hernia Surgery?
At Healthy Life Bariatrics, Dr. Moeinolmolki and his compassionate staff are ready to provide you with quality surgical care and shorter recovery times. If you have a paraesophageal hernia, or you suspect you do, schedule a consultation with Dr. Moein by calling from anywhere in Los Angeles, Encino, or Glendale, California – (310)694-4486.