A hiatal hernia is a condition of the stomach pushing through the diaphragm and entering the chest cavity by the lungs. Many people that have a hiatal hernia also have GERD and frequently both problems need to be treated simultaneously.
What It Is
If a person feels a lump or bulge in the abdomen, it could be a hernia. The lump may be soft, small to large, it may feel a little painful and swollen. The lump might even be able to be pushed back in, only to pop out again later. When the hernia occurs in the groin, it is called an inguinal hernia. When it occurs in the abdomen it can be related to a previous surgery (incisional hernia) or an abdominal wall weakness (ventral or umbilical hernia)
Generally, a physical exam by the doctor will confirm the presence of a hernia. Most hernias are found this way. In the rare cases where a patient has symptoms but a doctor cannot feel a hernia, then further tests may be ordered. Usually, a CT scan is the test of choice in that instance.
Commonly, there are 2 main approaches to repairing a hernia. Since these can be seen in so many locations and there are multiple reasons for developing a hernia, your surgeon will discuss with you the best option for your particular hernia.
Open repair is a larger incision that is made directly over the area of the hernia and the area where the bulging has developed will be fixed. Commonly, a prosthetic mesh is implanted to cover the area where the hernia has developed.
Laparoscopic repair is performed with multiple small incisions and always uses a prosthetic mesh. The hernia is repaired from inside the abdomen. This method works particularly well on large or inguinal hernias.
With both approaches you can generally expect to go home of the day of surgery. One exception is very large hernias. There will be soreness and bruising but this will improve over subsequent days.