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How long is the recovery time for esophageal hernia repair surgery?

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Quick Answer

When doctors repair an esophageal hernia laparoscopically, the patient usually remains in the hospital for one to two days and resumes normal activities within four weeks, says the Medical College of Wisconsin. Patients experience more complications and longer recovery times when doctors perform the surgery using an open abdominal approach.

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During laparoscopic surgery to repair an esophageal hernia, the surgeon makes many small incisions rather then one large incision, the Medical College of Wisconsin explains. Overall outcomes are significantly better with this approach, and it is just as effective as the open approach, states the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. This is especially true if the patient elects to undergo laparoscopic surgery soon after symptoms appear, according to a 2014 Surgical Endoscopy article on PubMed.gov.

Also known as a hiatal hernia, an esophageal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach bulges up through the hiatus, an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes, the Medical College of Wisconsin explains. There are two types of hiatal hernias: sliding hernias and a paraesophageal hernias. Heartburn and other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease usually accompany the former, while paraesophageal hernias are typically asymptomatic initially. Later, symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath and upper abdominal pain often appear. Due to a high risk of serious complications once symptoms develop, doctors recommend surgical repair of paraesophageal hernias. They manage sliding hiatal hernias with medication, resorting to surgery only if symptoms persist.

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