Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Hernia Hiatal Anatomy

To better understand hiatal hernia, it helps to understand the anatomy of the esophagus and diaphragm.

The diaphragm is a pair of thin muscles between the abdomen and the chest. This muscle expands the lungs during breathing. The esophagus normally passes through this muscle to the stomach.

The esophagus is a muscular tube that pushes food to the stomach. The stomach is a large pouch that receives food from a meal. The stomach slowly pushes the food into the small intestine, which absorbs nutrients from the food. The food passes through the small intestine and into the large intestine, which absorbs water from the food. The small intestine is about 18 feet (3.5 m) long and the large intestine is about 5 feet (1.5 m) long.

Gastrointestinal anatomy:

  • Esophagus and stomach
  • Intestines
  • Blood vessels of the intestines
  • Entire gastrointestinal tract

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Hernia Hiatal References
  1. Gorenstein A, Cohen AJ, Cordova Z, Witzling M, Krutman B, Serour F. Hiatal hernia in pediatric gastroesophageal reflux. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001 Nov;33(5):554-7. [11740228]
  2. Jones MP, Sloan SS, Rabine JC, Ebert CC, Huang CF, Kahrilas PJ. Hiatal hernia size is the dominant determinant of esophagitis presence and severity in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Jun;96(6):1711-7. [1141981]
  3. Leeder PC, Smith G, Dehn TC. Laparoscopic management of large paraesophageal hiatal hernia. Surg Endosc. 2003 Sep;17(9):1372-5. [12820060]
  4. Puri V, Kakarlapudi GV, Awad ZT, Filipi CJ. Hiatal hernia recurrence: 2004. Hernia. 2004 Dec;8(4):311-7. [15300469]
  5. Wu AH, Tseng CC, Bernstein L. Hiatal hernia, reflux symptoms, body size, and risk of esophageal and gastric adenocarcinoma. Cancer. 2003 Sep 1;98(5):940-8. [12942560]
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