A hiatal hernia is a bulge in the stomach that pushes back up through the diaphragm, into the chest.
There are 2 types of hiatal hernias:
- Sliding Hiatal Hernias
- Rolling, or Paraesophageal, Hernias
The most common type is the sliding hiatal hernia.
This occurs when part of the esophagus that is supposed to stay below the diaphragm in the abdomen and the top part of the stomach pop up through the hiatus into the thorax.
This bulge will slide back and forth above and below the diaphragm, depending on the patient's physical position, or other factors such as increased pressure in the belly caused by eating large meals, straining, or obesity.
The second, much more serious, type is called a rolling or paraesophageal hernia.
This occurs when the top part of the stomach gets "trapped" above the diaphragm and cannot slide back down into the abdomen.