A hiatal hernia
is a condition in which the upper portion of the stomach protrudes into
the chest cavity through an opening of the diaphragm called the
esophageal hiatus. This opening usually is large enough to accommodate
the esophagus alone. With progressive weakening and enlargement, this
opening can allow upward passage or even entrapment of the upper
stomach above the diaphragm.
The presence of a hiatal hernia increases the risk
of having GERD, and when GERD is treated surgically, patients who have
accompanying hiatal hernias, need surgical repair for this also; That
is the reason why some patients and doctors use the term hiatal hernia
to mean GERD indistinctly, even though they are two separate problems.
BUT there are many patients with GERD who do not have hiatal hernia,
and many patients with hiatal hernia that do not have GERD at all. That is why we decided to add this
section to complement the one for GERD.
A hiatal hernia is a common condition; by age 60, up to 60% of people
have it at some degree.
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