The swallowing tube (esophagus) passes into the stomach through the esophageal hiatus — the opening in the muscle wall below the lungs (the diaphragm). A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of your stomach bulges up through the hiatus into your chest cavity. Most hiatal hernias don't cause problems or require treatment. But a large hiatal hernia can cause food and stomach acid to back up into your esophagus (acid reflux), leading to heartburn and chest pain.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks No. 1 for digestive disorders in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked high performing for digestive disorders by U.S. News & World Report.
At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.
Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.
Read more about hiatal hernia.