How are GERD and Hiatal Hernia Related?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a long-term condition where acid from the stomach comes up into the esophagus. A hiatal hernia occurs when the opening in the diaphragm where the esophagus passes through to connect to the stomach is too large. The stomach may bulge through this opening up into your chest. It can make GERD symptoms worse. It is common for a hiatal hernia to be repaired in conjunction with antireflux surgery, such as Nissen fundoplication.

What is Nissen Fundoplication?

Nissen fundoplication, or laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication when performed via laparoscopic surgery, is an antireflux surgery procedure used to treat GERD and hiatal hernia. Dr. David Harrell, general surgeon at Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville, spoke about Nissen fundoplication and how it is done.

“During this procedure, the stomach is pulled back down (where it is supposed to be) in the abdomen, and then the hole in the muscle is closed with mesh to make the patient’s own tissue stronger so that it is less likely to come back in the future,” says Dr. Harrell. “The stomach tissue is wrapped around the swallowing tube during the procedure to recreate the stomach valve and decrease the reflux.”  Only safe mesh is used for the procedure and certainly no recalled meshes are used.

Nissen fundoplication is typically done robotically. “At Premier, we’ve been doing robotic hiatal hernia repair since 2011. We’ve performed almost 500 of those collectively since then,” says Dr. David Harrell, general surgeon with Premier Surgical Associates. “We have an excellent team and we know the ins and outs of the hiatal hernia repair process.”

One of the most important things about this procedure it that it is a minimally invasive surgery. Because Nissen fundoplication is less invasive, requiring only small cuts during surgery, the recovery time is a lot quicker. Most patients only have to stay one night after the procedure and are back to work after two weeks.

You can find more information about GERD treatment options on the acid reflux specialties page on our website.