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Hiatal Hernia (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Hiatal Hernia

When to call the doctor

  • When the symptoms of hiatal hernia are new, persistent (won't go away), or severe
  • When it is not clear what is causing your symptoms

When to go to the hospital

Hiatal Hernia Exams and Tests

The first visit for the symptoms of hiatal hernia may warrant tests to rule out more serious or life-threatening causes first, such as heart disease.

A thorough history will be taken to determine associated symptoms, circumstances, and risk factors for various diseases. Tell the doctor about foods or activities that help or worsen the symptoms.

A complete physical exam will focus on the digestive, pulmonary (lungs), and cardiovascular (heart) systems. A rectal exam and stool test for blood may be necessary to determine if there is bleeding from the digestive tract.

  • Initial tests
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG) to look for electrical disturbances of the heart from disease
    • Chest X-ray to look for pneumonia, collapsed lung, or other problems in the chest
    • Blood tests to look for anemia, infection, or injury to the heart, pancreas, or liver
    • Other tests focusing on the cardiovascular and pulmonary organ systems if suspicion remains high for problems in these areas
  • Possible follow-up tests
    • Barium swallow or upper GI x-ray series may be performed by a radiologist (you drinks some contrast material, and x-rays are taken).
    • Endoscopy may be performed by a gastroenterologist. A long fiberoptic scope is passed through the mouth and into the stomach looking for an ulcer, tumor, or other tissue damage. Sometimes a biopsy is needed.

Medical Treatment and Surgery for Hiatal Hernia

  • Medical treatment for hiatal hernia may include prescription-strength antacids such as lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), or rabeprazole (Aciphex).
  • Surgical treatments rarely are necessary except when emergency exists, such as a strangulated hiatal hernia or aggressive conservative therapy has failed.
  • Some people don't respond to home care or medical treatment and seek the advice of a general surgeon or thoracic surgeon about the latest options. Various techniques have been tried to fix the defects of hiatal hernia with some success.
Last Reviewed 8/31/2017
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hiatal Hernia »

A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach prolapses through the diaphragmatic esophageal hiatus.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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