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 reviewedMarch 2013by Peter Lucas, MD; Brian Randall, 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.