Changes in Hemoglobin Levels in Patients with Hiatal Hernia and Anemia Demonstrates a Durable Resolution When Surgery Utilized

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Foregut: The Journal of the American Foregut Society


swedish; seattle; washington; swedish dhi; swedish thoracic surgery



To describe the patterns of care of patients presenting with anemia and a hiatal hernia and to document hemoglobin levels at each stage of care.

Background data:

Anemia may be associated with hiatal hernia. Current medical guidelines recommend iron supplements and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) as initial steps, but not surgical repair is not routinely recommended despite evidence of cure.


Retrospective review of patients with anemia and hiatal hernia who underwent surgical repair. Hemoglobin, PPI use, and symptoms were assessed at diagnosis, preoperatively, and postoperatively.


We identified 116 predominantly female patients with type 3 hernias with 52.6% (n = 61) having Cameron ulcers. At baseline, 24.1% (n = 28) were transfused, 52% (n = 60) started on iron supplements, 72% (n = 84) on PPIs, and 10% (n = 12) on H2-blockers. Referral to surgery occurred 454 days (IQR: 129-1332) after anemia diagnosis. The mean Hgb at diagnosis was 9.79 (range: 4.8-12.7) in females and 10.9 (range: 7.7-12.9) in males, increasing to 11.1 (range: 5.4-15) and 11.4 (range: 5.8-15.9) with medical management. After laparoscopic repair, it increased to 12.3 (range: 8.1-14.8) and 13.4 (range: 8.9-16.8) at short term follow up. This was sustained at 12.8 (range: 8.8-17.7) and 14.2 (8.1-17) long term. Medical management normalized Hgb in 36% (n = 40/111); whereas surgery normalized Hgb in 62% (n = 64/104) short term and 74% (n = 69/93) long term. Cameron’s ulcers were associated with normalization in 85% (38/45) but only 62% (n = 21/34) when not present.


Anemia associated with a hiatal hernia improves with medication, but the addition of surgery normalizes Hgb, appears durable, allows cessation of medication, and improves quality of life.

Clinical Institute

Digestive Health


Swedish Digestive Health Institute


Swedish Thoracic Surgery