Complications of Hiatal Hernia Surgery

A hiatial or hiatus hernia occurs when the stomach protrudes through a weakened portion of the diaphragm, a large muscle that separates the abdominal and chest cavities. Patients who develop gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, or have a strangulated hiatal hernia may require surgical treatment, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Before undergoing surgery, patients should discuss the potential complications of hiatal hernia surgery with a medical professional.

Difficulty Burping or Vomiting

Hiatal hernia surgery can cause burping or vomiting complications in patients. Affected patients can experience difficulty or an inability to burp or vomit after undergoing this surgical procedure, Dr. J. Scott Roth with the University of Kentucky warns. Consequently, patients can feel unusually bloated after eating. Typically, these complications of hiatal hernia gradually subside as a patient begins to heal from hiatal hernia surgery; however, in certain patients, these complications can be chronic.

Painful Swallowing

Painful swallowing, a complication of hiatal hernia surgery called dysphagia, can occur in certain patients, warns. Patients who experience pain during swallowing may also develop a decrease in appetite due to this surgical complication. Swallowing difficulties are generally temporary and begin to resolve within the first three months following hiatal hernia surgery.


Pneumothorax is a complication of hiatal hernia surgery that causes excess air to accumulate around the lungs. Affected patients can experience symptoms that include chest tightness or pain; increased heart rate; fatigue; difficulty breathing; or skin discoloration, reports. Depending upon the severity of pneumothorax symptoms, affected patients may require additional surgical intervention to resolve this complication of hiatal hernia surgery.

Internal Organ Damage

Internal organ damage or injury is a potential complication of hiatal hernia surgery, John Muir Health explains. Patients who experience internal organ injury can develop nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Severe internal organ damage is rare, but may necessitate additional surgery to locate and repair the injury.

Infection or Bleeding

Infection or bleeding complications can arise in certain patients following hiatal hernia surgery. Affected patients may develop chills or a fever that exceeds 101 degrees F, the University of California Los Angeles Health System warns. Additional complications from infection can include incision site redness, inflammation or drainage. Patients who experience these complications of hiatal hernia surgery should seek immediate care from a doctor.

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