Usually before a doctor will consider doing hiatal hernia surgery they will first try to treat it using other methods. For those who do not have any symptoms the doctor is likely to take a wait and see approach, then consider the options if problems arise at a later date. Hiatal hernia surgery will be needed is the hernia becomes strangled. Hiatal hernia surgery will become necessary if the hernia becomes constricted and cuts off the blood supply. Hiatal hernia surgery will also be needed to reduce the size of the hernia and possibly put it back into the correct position.
This surgery is not nearly as serious as it was years ago. Nowadays it can easily be performed using a laparoscope. The surgeon will start by making approximately 6 very small incisions, anywhere from 5 – 10 millimeters, in different areas of the abdomen. Then he simply takes the laparoscope and any surgical instruments that he may need and will insert them into the incisions.
The surgeon then uses the laparoscope to guide what he does and pictures are then transmitted to a screen showing all the internal organs. At this point the surgeon finds the stomach and then looks for the defect in the diaphragm. In rare cases he may have to pull the stomach down through the diaphragm, removing it from the chest cavity and putting it back into the abdominal cavity.
The surgeon then moves on to taking the stomach and wrapping it around the end of the esophagus. It will then be stitched and stapled in the right area. A large defect in the diaphragm may mean, that it too, will have to be stapled and stitched or in rare cases it can be closed with a graft made of mesh.
There are numerous advantages to using a laparoscopic technique. First, and most important, there is much less chance of infection. Recovery is much faster and the patient will most likely experience a lot less pain and have very little scaring compared to the older methods.
This type of surgery is usually done using a general anesthesia and in some cases may even be performed on an out-patient basis. This type of surgery can be performed by a general surgeon but more often it is performed by a specialist.
It is not unusual for patients to be up and walking around within 24 hours of the surgery. Patients are also likely to have no restrictions when it comes to their diet and depending on the health of the patient, and the strength of their abdominal muscles, they can be back doing normal activities within a week of hiatal hernia surgery.
For a complete recovery you usually wait 2-3 weeks after having the surgery, although heavy lifting or intense labor in not recommended for at least 3 months. Hiatal Hernia surgery is no guarantee that in time there will not be a return of the hernia, but in a large number of cases the surgery will usually be a one time occurrence.
If you have to face this surgery it is comforting to know that hiatal hernia surgery is not nearly as serious as it used to be and has a lot fewer complications that the older methods.