A hiatal hernia occurs when there is a weakened area or defect in the hiatus (opening) of the diaphragm, which allows part of the stomach to protrude into the chest cavity. Unlike other hernias, you cannot see a hiatal hernia and there may not be symptoms if it is only small. Hiatal hernias are most common in people who are overweight.
If the hernia is severe, surgery may be required to repair it. This is usually done under general anaesthetic. The surgeon will make an incision either side of the hernia and a thin tube with a camera called a laparoscope is inserted. The surgeon can then view the hernia on a monitor. The stomach is then moved back into its correct place in the abdominal cavity. A mesh graft may also be inserted to strengthen the defect in the diaphragm and prevent the hernia from reoccurring.