A hernia that is not reduced or repaired surgically is subject to subsequent complications. A hiatus hernia is not exempted from this rule. Therefore a persistent hiatus hernia also produces complications though rarely they might produce complications that are life-threatening.
A Brief on the Complications of Hiatus Hernia
Haemorrhage or Bleeding
This is by far the most serious complication arising out of a hiatus hernia. Not everyone with a hiatus hernia suffers bleeding. Most bleeding is reported from the ulceration of the inner stomach region that is incarcerated. Incarcerated part is the part of the stomach that has breached the diaphragm and has entered the thoracic region where the esophagus is found. The bleeding more specifically happens when the gastric mucosa or the stomach mucous lining has eroded to cause (peptic) ulcer. Haemorrhage so caused may be small or sometimes it can be massive. It needs to be mentioned that massive bleeding is a surgical emergency.
If bleeding has been proceeding for a long time slowly, then the patient might become anemic. This complication happens only if the patient has not looked into the color of the stools. If a person has a bleeding peptic ulcer, the stools are black and tarry in nature.
Most people with a hiatus hernia have an ulcer in the part of the stomach that has been incarcerated. The peptic ulcer seen in the case of a hiatus hernia is not different from the peptic ulcer seen on patients without a hiatus hernia.
The stomach is an organ that displays extreme flexibility. The stomach along the lesser and greater curvature is highly flexible. But the upper part of the stomach, where the esophagus joins the stomach, called cardia, is not flexible. Similarly, the lower part of the stomach, where the stomach connects to the duodenum, called pylorus, is also not flexible. Sometimes the stomach may undergo distortion of shape and the pylorus might be drawn above the cardia for people with a hiatus hernia. This is a serious complication and is accompanied with vomit soon after the meal because the twisted stomach is unable to hold the food. The gas from the digested food might also get stuck in the twisting and can cause a great deal of uncomfortable feeling to the patients. Most patients describe the pain as unbearable chest pains.
Displacement of Heart and Aorta
Very rarely the diaphragm-breached stomach might push against the heart and the aorta, a major artery that supplies blood from the heart. If this happens, the patient might complain of severe pain in the chest.
Dr Maran on complications of a Hiatus Hernia
Dr Maran, the hernia specialist in Chennai is of the opinion that the very presence of a hiatus hernia disturbs the normal routine of the patient. It might cause uneasy acid reflux routinely. So Dr Maran is of the opinion that before a hiatus hernia can develop further complications, it is better to undergo hiatus hernia surgery as early as possible to improve the quality of life.
Dr Maran is an experienced Surgeon in the field of Gastro-enterology. He specializes in Advanced laparoscopic Surgery procedures of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tracts. Dr. Maran is also a leading Bariatric Surgeon in Chennai and has a penchant for addressing problems concerning Obesity.