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Duodenal Ulcer - Peptic ulcer
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Duodenal Ulcer - Peptic ulcer

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DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
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Millions of people worldwide suffer from stomach and duodenal ulcers. Peptic ulcers are common. The oftentimes, successful treatment of ulcers takes just a few weeks. Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach, upper small intestine or esophagus. The most prominent symptom of a peptic ulcer is pain.

 

Screening and diagnosis

Your doctor may begin with an upper gastrointestinal (GI) X-ray outlining your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Before the X-ray, you swallow a white, metallic liquid (barium) that coats your digestive tract and makes an ulcer more visible. An upper GI X-ray can detect some ulcers, but not all.

Endoscopy may follow an upper GI X-ray if the X-ray suggests a possible ulcer, or your doctor may perform endoscopy first. In this more sensitive procedure, a long, narrow tube with an attached camera is threaded down your throat and esophagus into your stomach and duodenum. With this instrument, your doctor can view your upper digestive tract and identify an ulcer. If an ulcer is found, your doctor may remove small tissue samples (biopsy) near the ulcer. These samples are examined under a microscope to rule out stomach cancer. A biopsy can also identify the presence of H. pylori in your stomach lining. Because cancer of the duodenum is rare, a biopsy of a duodenal ulcer is seldom necessary.

In addition to a biopsy, three other tests can determine if the cause of your ulcer is H. pylori infection:

  • Blood test. This test checks for the presence of H. pylori antibodies. A disadvantage of this test is that it sometimes can't differentiate between past exposure and current infection. After H. pylori bacteria have been eradicated, you may still have a positive result for many months.

  • Breath test. This procedure uses a radioactive carbon atom to detect H. pylori. First, you blow into a small plastic bag, which is then sealed. Then, you drink a small glass of clear, tasteless liquid. The liquid contains radioactive carbon as part of a substance (urea) that will be broken down by H. pylori. Thirty minutes later, you blow into a second bag, which also is sealed. If you're infected with H. pylori, your second breath sample will contain the radioactive carbon in the form of carbon dioxide. It takes about a day to get the test results.

  • If you're taking a medication called a proton pump inhibitor, it's important that you stop taking the medication for at least 3 days before the breath test, because the medication can interfere with the test results.

  • The breath test is sensitive to the presence of H. pylori more than 90 percent of the time. That's similar to the blood test. The advantage of the breath test is that it can monitor the effectiveness of treatment to eradicate H. pylori, detecting almost immediately when the bacteria have been killed or eradicated. With the blood test, H. pylori antibodies may sometimes still be present a year or more after the infection is gone.

  • Stool antigen test. This test checks for H. pylori in stool samples. It's useful in helping to diagnose H. pylori infection. It may also be useful in monitoring the success of treatment.

Complications

Left untreated, peptic ulcers can cause internal bleeding and can "eat" a hole through the wall of your stomach or small intestine, putting you at risk of serious infection of your abdominal cavity (peritonitis). The ulcer can also irritate or inflame your pancreas, leading to pancreatitis. Peptic ulcers can also produce scar tissue that can obstruct passage of food through the digestive tract, causing you to become full easily, to vomit and to lose weight. On rare occasions, a gastric or esophageal ulcer may be cancerous (malignant).

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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