Esophageal hiatal hernia: risk, diagnosis and management

Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Apr;12(4):319-329. doi: 10.1080/17474124.2018.1441711. Epub 2018 Feb 22.


Esophageal hiatal hernia involves abnormal abdominal entry into thoracic cavity. It is classified based on orientation between esophageal junction and diaphragm. Sliding hiatal hernia (Type-I) comprises the most frequent category, emanating from right crus of diaphragm. Type-II esophageal hernia engages both left and right muscular crura. Type-III and IV additionally include the left crus. Age and increased body mass index are key risk factors, and congenital skeletal aberrations trigger pathogenesis through intestinal malrotations. Familiar manifestations include gastric reflux, nausea, bloating, chest and epigastric discomfort, pharyngeal and esophageal expulsion and dysphagia. Weight loss and colorectal bleeding are severe symptoms. Areas covered: This review summarizes updated evidence of pathophysiology, risk factors, diagnosis and management of hiatal hernias. Laparoscopy and oesophagectomy procedures have been discussed as surgical procedures. Expert commentary: Endoscopy identifies untreatable gastric reflux; radiology is better for pre-operative assessments; manometry measures esophageal peristalsis, and CT scanning detects gastric volvulus and associated organ ruptures. Gastric reflux disease is mitigated using antacids and proton pump and histamine-2-receptor blockers. Severe abdominal penetration into chest cavity demands surgical approaches. Hence, esophagectomy has chances of post-operative morbidity, while minimally invasive laparoscopy entails fewer postoperative difficulties and better visualization of hernia and related vascular damages.

Keywords: GERD; causes; detection; esophagetomy; laparoscopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antacids / therapeutic use
  • Esophagectomy* / adverse effects
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / therapy
  • Hernia, Hiatal / diagnosis*
  • Hernia, Hiatal / epidemiology
  • Hernia, Hiatal / physiopathology
  • Hernia, Hiatal / therapy*
  • Herniorrhaphy / adverse effects
  • Herniorrhaphy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antacids
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors