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Original article

Vol. 151 No. 4950 (2021)

Current surgical concepts for type III hiatal hernia: a survey among members of the Swiss Society of Visceral Surgery

  • Stephan Gerdes
  • Diana Vetter
  • Philip C. Müller
  • Joshua R. Kapp
  • Christian A. Gutschow
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2021;151:w30052


AIMS OF THE STUDY: Surgery for large hiatal hernias has greatly evolved over the last decade, but there is an ongoing controversy regarding many technical aspects, such as the use of meshes or the necessity to add a fundoplication. The purpose of this survey was to assess the current spectrum of surgical care for mixed axial and paraoesophageal hiatal hernias (type III hiatal hernia) in Switzerland.

METHODS: In April 2020, we conducted a web-based survey comprising 25 questions on surgical management of type III hiatal hernia  among members of the Swiss Society for Visceral Surgery. The survey focused exclusively on primary hernias in an elective setting. Responses were graded on a five-point Likert scale and analysed using descriptive statistics. Consensus was defined as agreement (agree or strongly agree) ≥75%.

RESULTS: Forty-seven visceral surgeons with a median annual institutional caseload of 15 (interquartile range 10–30) type III hiatal hernia participated in the survey (response rate 15%). Agreement ≥75% was found for several basic technical steps (access via laparoscopy, hernia sac resection, preservation of vagus nerves, preservation of aberrant left hepatic artery, single-stitch posterior suture repair of hiatus with braided, non-resorbable material, complementary antireflux procedure). In contrast, consensus was not achieved for several important surgical details (mesh hiatoplasty, type of antireflux procedure, gastropexy, management of short oesophagus). A high percentage of participating surgeons experienced mesh related complications in their own or assigned patients: erosions (15% and 36%, respectively), stenoses (26% and 24%, respectively) and pericardial tamponades (9% and 15%, respectively). Nevertheless, hiatal reinforcement with mesh (in all or in selected cases) was reported by 91% of participants without consensus regarding mesh type, shape, placement and fixation technique.

CONCLUSIONS: Apart from a few generally accepted technical steps, surgical management of type III hiatal hernia is highly variable amongst visceral surgeons in Switzerland. Although mesh-related complications appear to be common, most Swiss surgeons report routine mesh use for hiatal reinforcement.


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