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  • 2660
  • 2009-02-12

Giant hiatal hernia: acute presentation with gastric volvulus

Epublication WebSurg.com, Feb 2009;09(02). URL:
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Hiatal hernia is a common disorder of the digestive tract. Most patients are elderly and with significant co-morbidities. Historically, the surgical repair of paraesophageal hernias (PHH) has been advocated regardless of the presence of symptoms. In fact, despite patients being symptom-free, the development of potentially life-threatening complications such as obstruction, acute dilatation, perforation, or bleeding of the stomach mucosa, is well-known and has proven to be fatal in 27% of cases. Nevertheless, patients with asymptomatic PHH are likely to develop symptoms needing emergency surgery in only 1.16% of cases with a 5.4% mortality rate. Recently, several authors have questioned the indication for repair in asymptomatic patients and prefer to monitor asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic PHH by ‘watchful waiting’. Our current practice is to operate only in the case symptoms or complications. The laparoscopic repair of PHH is certainly technically challenging. It requires considerable experience with minimally invasive surgery of the foregut, and a complete understanding of esophageal pathophysiology. The basic principles of surgical repair are the reduction of herniated stomach and distal esophagus into the abdominal cavity with tension-free repositioning of 2cm of lower esophagus in a subphrenic position, complete excision of the peritoneal hernia sac from the mediastinum and the repair of the diaphragmatic hiatus. This is the case of a woman admitted to the emergency room for complete acute dysphagia associated with type IV paraesophageal hernia. The preoperative work-up (CT-scan, upper GI series) showed the migration of the stomach, left transverse colon and omentum into the chest.