UOTW #39 Answer

Diagnosis: Large Hiatal Hernia

Bedside ultrasound demonstrated a fluid filled, occasionally peristalsing structure above the diaphragm, that had the appearance of the stomach. This structure was found to be abutting the left atrium when an echo was performed.   A CT, shown below, confirmed the findings.

  • Hiatal hernias (HH) come in three varieties: Type I is the classic sliding hernia which accounts for 95% of all hiatal hernias. Type II is the paraesophageal hernia, Type III is a mixture of types I and II, and type IV is when there is herniation of other abdominal contents into the posterior mediastinum.1
  • Hiatal hernias can cause the gastroesophageal junction to become incompetent, increasing the incidence of GERD. 1
  • Ultrasound (US) has been shown to be a promising adjunct study in the evaluation of a patient with a hiatal hernia. One study found ultrasound to have a PPV of 82.7% and a NPV of 97% in the detection of HH. 2
  • Ultrasound has also been shown to have a high correlation with CT diagnosis of HH. One study found an agreement of 0.995 between the two imaging modalities.3
  • HH should be on the differential in a patient with chest pain,4 and in fact syncope due to compression of the LA from a large HH has been described, as we saw in our patient.5
  1. Hyun JJ, Bak YT. Clinical significance of hiatal hernia. Gut Liver. 2011;5:(3)267-77. [pubmed]
  2. Barone M, Di Lernia P, Carbonara M, et al. Sliding gastric hiatal hernia diagnosis by transabdominal ultrasonography: an easy, reliable and non-invasive procedure. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006;41:(7)851-5. [pubmed]
  3. Cakmakci E, Celebi I, Tahtabasi M, et al. Accuracy of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of sliding hiatal hernias. Acad Radiol. 2013;20:(4)453-6. [pubmed]
  4. Koskinas KC, Oikonomou K, Karapatsoudi E, Makridis P. Echocardiographic manifestation of hiatus hernia simulating a left atrial mass: case report. Cardiovasc Ultrasound. 2008;6:46. [pubmed]
  5. Oishi Y, Ishimoto T, Nagase N, et al. Syncope upon swallowing caused by an esophageal hiatal hernia compressing the left atrium: a case report. Echocardiography. 2004;21:(1)61-4. [pubmed]

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