Hiatus hernia: the 2 main types
A hernia means a bulge of part of the body through an opening. When a hiatus hernia occurs, a portion of the stomach is able to slide upwards through the opening in the diaphragm, beside the oesophagus (gullet), into the chest.
There are 2 main types of hiatus hernia.
Sliding hiatus hernia: this is the most common type of hiatus hernia. It occurs when the junction between the oesophagus and the stomach and the upper part of the stomach protrude up through the oesophageal opening in the diaphragm into the chest cavity. The herniated portion of the stomach can slide back and forth, into and out of the chest.
Rolling hiatus hernia: this is sometimes called a para-oesophageal hiatus hernia by doctors. In this case, part of the stomach bulges into the chest out of the weakest part of the diaphragm, which is the oesophageal opening. The junction of the oesophagus and stomach stays down within the abdomen, and the top part of the stomach (the fundus) bulges up into the chest cavity. This type of hernia normally remains in one place, sitting next to the oesophagus, and does not move in or out when you swallow.
Hiatus hernias, particularly the rolling type, may cause or contribute to pain in the abdominal area, heartburn and pains in the chest area. However, these can also be the symptoms of a number of other conditions such as peptic ulcer and even heart disease. Always remember that your doctor needs to investigate any chest pain you experience.
Last Reviewed: 08 July 2009