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Stomach Ulcer Disease

Doctor and Patient

DHI offers the most advanced, less invasive treatments for peptic ulcer disease.

Stomach ulcer disease involves painful sores or lesions in the lining of the stomach or part of the small intestines. These ulcers are also called peptic ulcers because they are caused by pepsin and hydrochloric acid, the digestive acids produced by these organs.

Causes of Stomach Ulcers

Many factors can contribute to the formation of stomach ulcers, including:

  • An overproduction of stomach acid
  • Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection
  • Excessive use of painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can erode the stomach lining, making a person more prone to ulcers.
  • Smoking
  • Consuming caffeine or alcohol
  • Stress

Stomach Ulcer Symptoms

The early symptoms of stomach ulcers are very similar to those of a number of stomach conditions and can include:

  • Stomach pain, especially when the stomach is empty
  • Heartburn
  • Belching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

If left untreated, stomach ulcers can:

  • Bleed
  • Swell
  • Perforate (eat a hole in the stomach wall)
  • Scar, which could narrow and possibly obstruct the opening between the stomach and small intestine

Stomach Ulcer Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you may have a stomach ulcer, you will likely have some tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine your best treatment option:

  • H. pylori breath test, or urea breath test (UBT) – This test involves consuming an isotope of carbon called urea. Helicobacter pylori break down urea into carbon dioxide. Because carbon dioxide is also in your breath when you exhale, you will blow into a bag that is sealed so your breath can be tested. You will do this again after taking the urea. If excess amounts of carbon dioxide are in the second breath sample compared to your first, your doctor will know you have an H. pylori infection.
  • Upper endoscopy – This procedure will allow your gastroenterologist to see inside your stomach and inspect the lining. If any ulcers are found, samples of them may be taken for biopsy. These biopsy samples can also indicate whether you have an H. pylori bacterial infection.
  • Upper GI series (barium swallow) – This imaging test involves a series of X-rays that helps your doctor visualize your ulcers. This test is very safe and non-invasive, but it does not provide the opportunity for biopsy as an upper endoscopy does.

Treatment for Stomach Ulcers

Treatment for stomach ulcers depends on how early they are detected and what their underlying cause is. Today most ulcers can be treated medically with medicines or endoscopic procedures. However, some cases of peptic ulcer disease may require surgery and some ulcers may need emergency surgery. Because DHI gastroenterologists work hand-in-hand with experienced, minimally invasive gastric surgeons, patients in need of surgery for their ulcers have more options.

Peptic Ulcer Medical Treatment

Anti-acid medicines may be prescribed to reduce the amount of stomach acid. Antibiotics can be used to treat an underlyingH. pylori infection. Some ulcers that are bleeding or causing an obstruction can be treated through a therapeutic endoscopy. However, a perforated ulcer that has created a hole in the stomach requires emergency surgery. Surgery is also necessary for ulcers that do not respond to medical treatment.

Surgery for Peptic Ulcers

The surgeons at DHI offer minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgery to treat ulcers. One benefit of this approach is that instead of having a long incision in the abdomen, only a few small incisions are required. This helps speed up recovery, and patients do not need to stay in the hospital as long.

Do you need stomach ulcer evaluation or treatment? Want to know more about surgical options for ulcers? Call (813) 615-7557 for an appointment with an expert at DHI.



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