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Research Letter
Pacific Coast Surgical Association
November 2015

Morbidity and Mortality Associated With Elective or Emergency Paraesophageal Hernia Repair

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Surg. 2015;150(11):1094-1096. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.1867

For decades, the standard of care for a paraesophageal hiatal hernia (PEH) was surgical repair after diagnosis, irrespective of symptoms. This standard of care was based on the reported high risk of acute gastric volvulus, strangulation, bleeding, or obstruction associated with untreated PEH and on the high mortality associated with emergency repair.1,2 A paradigm shift occurred in 2002, when Stylopoulos et al,3 using Markov analysis, found that watchful waiting was superior to elective repair for patients older than 65 years of age with a minimally symptomatic PEH. As a result, many patients with a PEH deferred surgery and opted for watchful waiting. A predictable consequence of watchful waiting has been an increase in the number of patients presenting with an acute PEH, sometimes with catastrophic outcomes.4 We characterized outcomes of emergency PEH repair in the modern era compared with elective repair using data from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.