Repairing Hernias of the Diaphragm

A hiatal hernia is when the inner lining of the abdominal wall protrudes into the chest cavity through a hole or weak spot in the diaphragm. This bulging forms a hernia sac where other stomach contents such as fat or the intestine can also protrude into. It's most commonly caused by an increase of pressure in the abdominal cavity caused by things such as heavy lifting, vomiting or straining during a bowel movement.

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How the Procedure Is Performed

Repairing a hernia involves fixing the defect in the diaphragm. This can be done through minimally invasive (laparoscopic) procedure or a traditional open surgery. Minimally invasive surgery may result in less pain, less blood loss, and a shorter recovery.*

A laparoscopic or robotic hernia repair involves making three to five small incisions around the hernia. Surgical instruments are then inserted into the incisions, including a laparoscope, which has a camera that the surgeon uses to better view the surgical area. The defect in the diaphragm is repaired and, at times, reinforced with mesh.

Recovering From Surgery

Most patients are able to go home the same day or the day after surgery, and can return to work and normal activities within one to two weeks after surgery. Diet is slowly increased as tolerated. Pain medications may be given as needed. A follow-up visit with your surgeon normally occurs two weeks after surgery.

*Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if robotic surgery or minimally invasive surgery are right for you.