BACKGROUND: Large hiatus hernia (LHH) is often associated with post-prandial dyspnea, palpitations or chest discomfort, but its effect on cardiac volumes and performance is still debated.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Before and 3-months after laparoscopic repair, 35 patients underwent cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) in the fasting state and after a standardized meal. Preoperatively, LHH size increased significantly after meal (p < 0.010). Compared to the fasting state, a systematic trend of volume reduction of the cardiac chambers was observed. In addition, both the left ventricle stroke volume (p = 0.012) and the ejection fraction (p = 0.010) were significantly reduced. At 3-months after surgery there was a statistically significant increase in left atrial volume (p = 0.029), overall left ventricle volume (p < 0.05) and right ventricle end-systolic volume (p = 0.046). Both FEV1 (Forced expiratory volume) (p = 0.02) and FVC (Forced Vital Capacity) (p = 0.01) values significantly improved after surgery. Cardiorespiratory symptoms significantly improved compared to pre-operative values (p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: The global heart function was significantly impaired by a standardized meal in the presence of a LHH. Restoration of the cardiac physiological status and improvement of clinical symptoms were noted after surgery. A multidisciplinary evaluation and CMR with a challenge meal may be added to routine pre-operative testing to select symptomatic patients for surgical hernia repair.