Stomach Ulcer Biopsy
Below, you will find information on what a stomach ulcer biopsy is, the typical procedure used to perform this test, and reasons why your doctor might request one.
What is a Stomach Ulcer Biopsy?
A biopsy simply refers to taking a tissue sample and examining the cells. Cells may be looked at under a microscope, be tested for infection, and technicians may even look at the DNA and RNA (genetic make-up) or the proteins that construct the cell.
A stomach ulcer biopsy is performed to check for cancerous cells. While the vast majority of peptic ulcers are not cancerous, a small percentage can be. Additionally, a biopsy can check for bacteria and other infections such as H pylori.
Typical Procedure for Stomach Ulcer Biopsies
The procedure for a stomach ulcer biopsy is very simple. Because the ulcer is on the surface of the stomach or small intestine, a biopsy can be taken while performing an endoscopy.
An endoscopy is a procedure which involves navigating a flexible tube from the mouth, into the esophagus, and down into the stomach. Patients are typically sedated for this procedure. This tube can hold delicate equipment, including a camera (to get complete vision of the stomach and early small intestine) as well as a tool for taking a biopsy.
To summarize, a stomach ulcer biopsy is a simple add-on to an endoscopy, which is somewhat regularly performed when in the case of an ulcer.
Advantages of a Stomach Ulcer Biopsy and Why One Might Be Performed
Most people who have a stomach ulcer will not have the tissue biopsied. There are many reasons why this may be the case, but it is likely that one of the following factors was at play:
A negative H pylori breath test. Under the popular “test and treat” model, many doctors will now perform an H pylori test if the patient reports stomach ulcer symptoms. If this comes back negative, a follow-up endoscopy may be performed to see if he (or she) can find anything out of the ordinary. If an ulcer is found, a biopsy might be taken to re-test the tissue for H pylori (more accurate than a breath test) and to screen for cancer.
Another reason this procedure might be performed is if the ulcer is irregularly shaped or discolored (after viewing it during an endoscopy). Much like with skin cancer, cancerous stomach ulcers tend to have an unusual appearance and frequently do not resemble typical ulcers.
Finally, a biopsy is also commonly performed in response to an ulcer resistant to treatment. If you get medical treatment for H pylori and your ulcer remains or frequently returns, a biopsy may be done as chronic ulceration could be related to cancer.
Stomach Ulcer Biopsy Conclusion
A stomach ulcer biopsy is a very simple procedure, given that it is an add-on to an endoscopy. No incisions are required and just because a biopsy is requested does not mean you not necessarily mean that you have cancer as biopsies can be performed to screen for H pylori.