Introduction: Giant paraesophageal hernias (PEH) involve herniation ofstomach and/or other viscera into the mediastinum. These are usually symptomatic and commonly occur in the elderly. The benefits and risks of operating on elderly patients with giant PEH have not been clearly elucidated.
Materials and methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of consecutive patients aged 70 or greater with giant PEHs undergoing repair.Quality of life data were gathered using QOLRAD, GERD-HRQL and adysphagia severity score.
Results: Fifty-eight patients (34 females), median 78 years old, presented for repair. Nine patients presented urgently. There was no 30-day mortality. Major morbidity was 15.5%. At mean follow-up of 1.3 years, 81% were symptom free compared to baseline (p < 0.0001). Both short-term (p < 0.001) and long term QOLRAD (p < 0.001) scores improved significantly, as did GERD HRQL scores (p < 0.001). Dysphagia scores worsened in the short term but returned to baseline at long term follow up.
Conclusions: Symptomatic giant PEH in this elderly population can be repaired with symptomatic improvement, minimal morbidity and mortality in both the elective and urgent setting. The decision to operate should be made by a physician experienced in managing this complex patient population.