Condition 101 About Hiatal Hernia

What is the definition of Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach extends through an opening of the diaphragm into the chest. The diaphragm is the sheet of muscle that divides the chest from the abdomen.

What are the alternative names for Hiatal Hernia?

Hernia - hiatal

What are the causes for Hiatal Hernia?

The exact cause of hiatal hernia is not known. The condition may be due to weakness of the supporting tissue. Your risk for the problem goes up with age, obesity, and smoking. Hiatal hernias are very common. The problem occurs often in people over 50 years.

This condition may be linked to reflux (backflow) of gastric acid from the stomach into the esophagus.

Children with this condition are most often born with it (congenital). It often occurs with gastroesophageal reflux in infants.

What are the symptoms for Hiatal Hernia?

Symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn, worse when bending over or lying down
  • Swallowing difficulty

A hiatal hernia by itself rarely causes symptoms. Pain and discomfort are due to the upward flow of stomach acid, air, or bile.

What are the current treatments for Hiatal Hernia?

The goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Treatments may include:

  • Medicines to control stomach acid
  • Surgery to repair the hiatal hernia and prevent reflux

Other measures to reduce symptoms include:

  • Avoiding large or heavy meals
  • Not lying down or bending over right after a meal
  • Reducing weight and not smoking
  • Raising the head of the bed 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters)

If medicines and lifestyle measures do not help control symptoms, you may need surgery.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Hiatal Hernia?

Treatment can relieve most symptoms of hiatal hernia.

What are the possible complications for Hiatal Hernia?

Complications may include:

  • Pulmonary (lung) aspiration
  • Slow bleeding and iron deficiency anemia (due to a large hernia)
  • Strangulation (closing off) of the hernia

When should I contact a medical professional for Hiatal Hernia?

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have symptoms of a hiatal hernia.
  • You have a hiatal hernia and your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment.
  • You develop new symptoms.

How do I prevent Hiatal Hernia?

Controlling risk factors such as obesity may help prevent hiatal hernia.



Brady MF. Hiatal hernia. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2019. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:663.e2-663.e5.

Falk GW, Katzka DA. Diseases of the esophagus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 138.

Rosemurgy AS. Paraesophageal hernia. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:1534-1538.

Yates RB, Oelschlager BK, Pellegrini CA. Gastroesophageal reflux disease and hiatal hernia. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 42.

Latest Advances On Hiatal Hernia

  • Condition: Gastric Volvulus
  • Journal: JSLS : Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
  • Treatment Used: Video-Laparoscopic Surgery
  • Number of Patients: 30
  • Published —
In this study, researchers sought to determine the best treatment for gastric volvulus.
  • Condition: Esophageal Strictures
  • Journal: Missouri medicine
  • Treatment Used: Esophageal Dilation
  • Number of Patients: 3112
  • Published —
This study tested the safety and efficacy of using esophageal dilation to treat patients with esophageal strictures.

Clinical Trials For Hiatal Hernia

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Device
  • Participants: 165
  • Start Date: January 1, 2021
A Prospective Randomised Multi - Center Trial on the Repair of Large Hiatal Hernias With Sutures Versus Pledgeted Sutures Versus Absorbable Mesh
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Intervention Type: Procedure, Device
  • Participants: 450
  • Start Date: January 2021
Cohort Registry on LINX Reflux Management System or Fundoplication Clinical Study in Patients With Hiatal Hernia >3 cm