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Patient Story

Hiatus Hernia Repair


I had been having issues with your oesophagus for 12 years off and on since lifting something too heavy during work. The symptoms that I experienced include a burning sensation in my chest up to my throat, difficulty swallowing, and occasional serious coughing. It has been an awful ongoing experience dealing with this. Usually brought on by fizzy drinks such as coca cola and beer, food like crisps and hot and spicey food. Despite reducing the intake massively over the past years it still causes a lot of issues. I was told that it was reflux of the acid from the stomach up into the oesophagus. I had been taking medication for the last 10 years and this does help me with the symptoms for temporary relief but it does not cure it. I have had a number of tests including an endoscopy and a spirometry test to help with the diagnosis. After seeing the GP I was referred to A/Prof Sandroussi.

Clinic Appointment

My first clinic appointment was at the Missenden road clinic in Camperdown. I was apprehensive going into the appointment due to the pain and stress this condition has caused me. We went over my medical history, including symptoms, medications and previous tests. It was reassuring to know that although I clearly had a hiatus hernia which needs fixing, an operation could improve and hopefully get rid of my complications. The process and the aftercare was broken down and all explained to me at a level I could understand. I was really happy with my experience and it gave me hope that I could see the back of medication and a less painful future.

Pre-admission Clinic

We were told to walk in at the RPA pre-admission clinic at the RPAH Medical centre on level 2. The whole process was very easy and only took us a couple of hours. The nurse rang us and went over our check list the day before which saved us some time and energy on the day. The pre-admission lady Anne Draper was fantastic and was really reassuring about the whole process and calmed me right down. She explained the process and help with finalising the paperwork which was a little daunting but we got through it with some time invested. I then got an ECG to check my heart followed by a trip upstairs to level 3 to pathology for a blood check. All in all the process was very smooth and impressed with the level of care I received across the board.

The Operation

On the day of the procedure I turned up to the TPU area at RPA bright and early at 6:30am because I was first on the list. After checking in at the front desk I saw a nurse who went over everything and checked my blood pressure and medications. I was then admitted to the have surgery. The whole team were very reassuring and friendly including the English anaesthetist. I was put to sleep and then woke up a bit drowsy and sleepy in recovery, before being taken up to the ward.

There were 5 small holes where they had put the ports to do the keyhole surgery to fix my hiatus hernia. I was told after the surgery that the hernia was very big, with half of my stomach in my chest (no wonder it was causing me so much discomfort!). They pulled the stomach down and wrapped it round the front of my oesophagus. They fixed the hernia by suturing the muscles of the diaphragm back together to stop the stomach slipping back up again. I was a little sore when I first woke up but this was all managed on paracetamol.

The Hospital Stay

I had to manage my cough after the operation, this was my major concern that it might disrupt the repair. I managed this by pushing a blanket down on my abdomen to help control it and drunk some tea. Otherwise, the recovery was very swift after the procedure. The physio had me up doing some small walks on the afternoon after the operation to help me with my recovery. I was on liquids and sloppy food provided by the hospital, I also had a few smoothies and coffees from the café downstairs. It’s usually a 1 night stay for this procedure but I ended up spending 2 nights in hospital before they were happy for me to leave. I would make sure you take a couple of good books and your phone charger.

After the Operation

No heavy lifting or sport for 6 weeks and a lot of rest were the key things pointed out to avoid. Sloppy food only for 1-3 weeks and then soft food 3-6 weeks, definitely no steak, hard meat and bread which can get stuck. The things that I found I could eat which worked for me included soups, mash potato, smoothies, lasagne, cottage pie, minced meat, soft fish, yoghurt and chia pudding. The dressings came off after a week. I started with small slow walks and built up the distance over time, I found if I overexerted myself I got really tired so took it easy. Lots of good books and some good films were helpful to keep me entertained while my body recovered.

Final Comments

Hiatus hernias do not need to be a chronic issue you need to suffer with for the rest of your life. When medications are no longer doing the trick speak to an expert and assess your options. I am very pleased with the results and I will not forget the team of people that took care of me and I look forward to a healthier future.

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Dr Charbel Sandroussi

Specialist in GI and General Surgery


Fax: Hours

Mon – Fri: 9:00 – 17:00