The diaphragm is a thin sheet of muscle that separates the chest and the abdomen. The esophagus passes through a hole in the diaphragm on its way to the stomach. Sometimes the tissue around this hole stretches and allows part of the stomach to bulge into the chest cavity. The most common sign of this condition is heartburn or a feeling of regurgitation of food. Occasionally, you may have difficulty swallowing or pain under the breastbone. Most times medical therapy is used to manage your symptoms, but if medical therapy fails, surgery may be considered.
Hiatal hernia repair can be done either through an open abdominal incision or with small incisions and a laparoscope. Your surgeon will have to evaluate multiple factors before he can decide what approach is best for you. During the surgery, the stomach is brought back into the abdominal cavity and a wrap is formed to keep it in place. You will be asleep for the two to four hours that is takes to complete this surgery. The average hospital stay for this surgery is three to six days with a total recovery period of four to six weeks.