The often overlooked connection between a hiatal hernia and chronic acid reflux

November 23, 2022

As a certified surgical technician for Centura Health, Michele Leonard has over 33 years of experience in the healthcare industry. As an active, Colorado resident, Michele has enjoyed good health for most of her life. So, you can understand her concern when one day at work, after completing an extra shift, Michele started to experience pain in her left groin.

“The pain was so bad that I knew I had to go to the emergency room. I was taken in a wheelchair from the hospital to the emergency room where they performed a CT scan,” says Michele.

The CT scan revealed a left inguinal hernia and hiatal hernia. In addition to the hernias, Michele had been experiencing severe acid reflux for the past 10 years. Michele says, “The acid reflux was so bad that I had to stop eating every day at 3pm or the reflux would keep me up most of the night with an intense burning sensation and vomiting. The daily dose of omeprazole didn’t relieve any of my symptoms”

As part of her dedication and journey to get better, Michele reached out to Drs. Ahmed Zihni and Ashwin Kurian of The Center for Heartburn & Reflux. The Center for Heartburn and Reflux (CHR) at Porter Hospital is an advanced diagnostic and treatment center specializing in the management of esophageal and stomach diseases. One of the center’s areas of expertise is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Michele was impressed with the thorough testing regime that CHR performed which included a barium swallow test, esophageal manometry, and an endoscopy. After getting a clearer picture of Michele’s health and the effects of acid reflux, Dr. Zihni told her that if she waited to treat the hernias, which were causing the acid reflux, they would keep getting bigger.

As a surgical tech, Michele was aware of the life-changing benefits of surgical intervention. “I’ve been a surgical tech in general surgery for almost 33 years – I’ve seen it all. I know there are risks to surgery, but the positive stories far outweigh the negative ones, so I opted for surgery to fix the hernias,” says Michele.

“My surgery with Drs. Zihni and Kurian was the easiest surgery I’ve ever had. And from the day after surgery and since, I’ve had zero acid reflux and I am back to living life and enjoying food again,” says Michele. “Dr. Kurian and Dr. Zihni are wonderful doctors. They are experts in what they do I am grateful for what they did for me.”

Whether you’re experiencing your first bout of heartburn, or you’ve suffered from acid reflux for years without finding a solution, the expert gastroenterologists and GI surgeons at the Porter Center for Heartburn and Reflux (CHR) in Denver are here to help. Call 303-765-3581 to schedule your appointment today.