How is a hiatal hernia diagnosed?

Several tests can be done to help diagnose a hiatal hernia. These include a barium swallow test, an endoscopy procedure, esophageal manometric studies, a pH test, and gastric emptying studies.

  • A barium swallow involves drinking a special liquid, then taking X-rays to help see problems in the esophagus (such as swallowing disorders) and the stomach (such as ulcers and tumors). It also shows how big the hiatal hernia is and if there is twisting of the stomach as a result of the hernia.
  • An endoscopy is a procedure in which the inside of the upper digestive system is examined with an endoscope (a long, thin, flexible instrument about 1/2 inch in diameter).
  • An esophageal manometry measures the strength and muscle coordination of your esophagus when you swallow.
  • A pH test measures the acid levels in the esophagus and helps determine which symptoms are related to acid in the esophagus.
  • Gastric emptying studies examine how fast food leaves the stomach. Results from this test are especially important in patients who have nausea and vomiting. There could be other causes of the nausea and vomiting besides a hiatal hernia.

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