Pronounced: High-AY-tal HER-nee-uhEn Español (Spanish Version)
A hiatal hernia is a movement of part of the stomach up into the chest cavity. The stomach presses up through a small hole in the diaphragm muscle. The diaphragm is the muscular wall that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity.
Different types of hiatal hernias include:
- Sliding hiatal hernia—part of the stomach slides into and out of the chest cavity. This is the most common type.
- Fixed hiatal hernia—upper part of the stomach remains in the chest cavity.
- Complicated hiatal hernia—Several other types of stomach herniation may be seen. These are uncommon but more serious and may require surgery.
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The exact cause of hiatal hernias is not clear. Some people are born with a hiatal hernia but most will develop it later in life.
The diaphragm has an opening that the esophagus can pass through. A weakening or injury to this opening can allow a hiatal hernia to develop. Increased pressure in the abdomen can also push the stomach up into the chest cavity.
Last reviewedJune 2013by Peter Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.