Incidence and Risk Factors of Symptomatic Hiatal Hernia Following Resection for Gastric and Esophageal Cancer

Anticancer Res. 2017 Dec;37(12):7031-7036. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.12173.


Background/aim: Symptomatic hiatal hernia (HH) following resection for gastric or esophageal cancer is a potentially life-threatening event that may lead to emergent surgery. However, the incidence and risk factors of this complication remain unclear.

Patients and methods: Data of patients who underwent resection for gastric or esophageal cancer between 2005 and 2012 were assessed and the incidence of symptomatic HH was evaluated. Factors associated with an increased risk for HH were investigated.

Results: Resection of gastric or esophageal cancer was performed in 471 patients. The primary tumor was located in the stomach, cardia and esophagus in 36%, 24%, and 40% of patients, respectively. The incidence of symptomatic HH was 2.8% (n=13). All patients underwent surgical hernia repair, 8 patients (61.5%) required emergent procedure, and 3 patients (23%) underwent bowel resection. Morbidity and mortality after HH repair was 38% and 8%, respectively. Factors associated with increased risk for symptomatic HH included Body-Mass-Index (median BMI with HH 27 (23-35) vs. BMI without HH 25 (15-51), p=0.043), diabetes (HH rate: with diabetes, 6.3% vs. without diabetes, 2%, p=0.034), tumor location (HH rate: stomach, 1.2% vs. esophagus, 1.1% vs. cardia, 7.9%, p=0.001), and resection type (HH rate: total/subtotal gastrectomy, 0.7% vs. transthoracic esophagectomy, 2.7% vs. extended gastrectomy, 6.1%, p=0.038).

Conclusion: HH is a major adverse event after resection for gastric or esophageal cancer especially among patients undergoing extended gastrectomy for cardia cancer requiring a high rate of repeat surgery. Therefore, intensive follow-up examinations for high-risk patients and early diagnosis of asymptomatic patients are essential for selecting patients for elective surgery to avoid unpredictable emergent events with high morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: Hiatal hernia; esophageal cancer; gastric cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Berlin / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Esophagectomy / adverse effects
  • Esophagectomy / methods
  • Female
  • Gastrectomy / adverse effects
  • Gastrectomy / methods
  • Hernia, Hiatal / diagnosis*
  • Hernia, Hiatal / epidemiology
  • Hernia, Hiatal / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / surgery*