Patients suffering from painful stomach hernias will soon have access to a groundbreaking procedure that effectively eliminates the condition with minimal long-term side effects. Traditionally, invasive surgery with multiple incisions in the chest has been the go-to treatment for patients, often resulting in lifelong complications such as difficulty swallowing and internal bleeding. However, the newly introduced 60-minute operation, recently carried out on the NHS, involves a single small incision in the chest, no larger than a centimetre.
Stomach hernias, also known as hiatus hernias, commonly affect men over the age of 50 and can cause uncomfortable heartburn and bloating. While the exact cause of these hernias is still unknown, experts believe they occur when the diaphragm weakens, allowing the stomach to rise into the chest through the oesophagus. Being overweight or pregnant can also increase the risk of developing a hiatus hernia.
The innovative procedure involves pushing the hernia out of the chest using a surgical device and tightening the top of the diaphragm with stitches to prevent the stomach from rising again. A robotic surgical tool is then guided through the mouth to the stomach, where it utilizes stitches to fold the tissue at the top of the stomach, holding it in place. Patients have reported significant relief from their heartburn symptoms within weeks of the operation.
Dr Rehan Haidry, a consultant gastroenterologist at The Cleveland Clinic, has hailed this procedure as a game-changer for the treatment of stomach hernias. The minimally invasive nature of the operation makes it the ideal choice for NHS patients suffering from this uncomfortable condition. Previous treatments required multiple incisions in the chest, potentially leading to complications and an extended recovery period. In contrast, this new procedure requires only a small incision and has been shown to result in fewer side effects such as difficulty swallowing or bloating.
The impact of the procedure has been transformative for many patients who have lived with stomach hernias for decades, enduring severe acid reflux and other debilitating symptoms. With a procedure time of under an hour, patients can be discharged the next morning, leaving them with nothing but a small scar on their chest. The success of the procedure and its minimal invasiveness offer hope to those seeking relief from stomach hernias and an improved quality of life.