How to Diagnose Hiatal Hernia With Ultrasound

Written by nathaniel miller
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Hiatus hernia is a condition characterised by distension of the stomach and its protrusion into the diaphragm region. Hiatus hernia can present at birth or can be acquired later on in life. Hiatus hernia that is acquired later mainly results from conditions such as cough, strain on the abdominal region during bowel movement and from pregnancy. Techniques typically used to diagnose hiatus hernia are barium swallow and endoscopy. However, ultrasound is another more recent means of diagnosing hiatus hernia.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Watch for persistence of signs indicative of hiatus hernia such as regurgitation, inability to swallow, belching and hiccups. The presence of two or more of these symptoms is cause for concern and can be confirmed through a doctor's diagnosis.

  2. 2

    See your doctor for an ultrasound, if symptoms are recurring frequently. Ensure that the appointment is in the morning as a three-hour minimum fast is required prior to an ultrasound appointment.

  3. 3

    Drink plenty of water before your ultrasound appointment to fulfil the full bladder requirement. Any sort of distension of stomach or enlargement of the hiatus can be viewed clearly with ultrasound. Visible bulges on the hiatus muscle without any inflammation on the skin or other deformities surrounding the site in question can be attributed to a hernia.

Tips and warnings

  • A neglected case of hiatus hernia can lead to serious long-term health conditions like gastro-oseophageal reflux disease (GERD). Though some extreme cases of hiatus hernia may require laparoscopic surgery, the majority of cases can be treated with simple lifestyle changes such as reducing weight if overweight, eating a high-fibre diet with lots of water consumption and treating even the slightest cough symptoms as they occur.

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