What Is a Hiatal Hernia?

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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The diaphragm is a sheet of skeletal muscle that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdomen. In its structure, it contains an important opening, also known as diaphragmatic hiatus, that allows the esophagus to pass through in order to reach the stomach in the abdominal cavity. Note that the thoracic cavity should only contain important blood vessels, the heart, the esophagus, airways, and the lungs. A hiatal hernia is a condition where a part of the stomach protrudes or prolapses through this hiatus into the thoracic cavity. Hiatal hernias are usually an incidental finding because they are mostly asymptomatic. Rarely, patients with this condition can develop life-threatening complications.

1. Epidemiology

Hiatal hernias are more common in the West hemisphere. Also, the frequency of hiatus hernia increases with age due to the loss of elasticity, muscle weakening, and loss of muscle tone around the diaphragmatic hiatus as people age. Thus, roughly more than half of the patients are older than 70 years. Finally, hiatal hernias are more common in women, possibly due to increases in intra-abdominal pressure during pregnancy.

Hiatal Hernia

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