Paraoesophageal hiatal hernias: when to operate.J R Coll Surg Edinb. 1992 Apr; 37(2):97-8.JR
Between 1979 and 1988, 29 cases of paraoesophageal hernia presented to one surgeon (F.D.S.). There were 23 women and six men and the mean(s.e.m.) age was 66.3(4.1) years. All were symptomatic and 13 hernias (45%) were complicated by gastric volvulus, haemorrhage or perforation. Ten (34%) had evidence of gastro-oesophageal reflux, suggesting a sliding component in these cases. Operation, mostly transthoracic, consisted of hernial reduction, crural repair and, if indicated, an antireflux procedure. There were three deaths. Two occurred as a result of spontaneous, intrathoracic perforation of the hernia. The third followed dilatation of a benign stricture 2 months after surgery. The only major complication was a pulmonary embolus with full recovery. The mean(s.e.m.) follow-up time was 47.6(7.8) months and there were no recurrences. This series confirms that symptomatic paraoesophageal hernias warrant early repair because of the frequency and severity of associated complications. Although debate continues as to whether this policy should be extended to asymptomatic paraoesophageal hernias, we suggest that this should be so.