Stomach Ulcer Endoscopy Procedures
A stomach ulcer endoscopy is a procedure which allows medical professionals to see the inside of a person’s digestive system. This is usually a painless procedure that is recommended when a person is showing the signs of a digestive issue and when a stomach ulcer or other digestive disorder is suspected.
An endoscopy procedure employs the use of an endoscope, a special tool for viewing the inside of the body. The endoscope can look for stomach ulcers in the stomach, the esophagus, and the duodenum. It can allow doctors to collect tissue samples from a stomach ulcer and aid in small, non-invasive surgical procedures.
It can also look in the small intestine, large intestine and colon, respiratory system, urinary tracts, reproductive systems, and more. In short, this is a well-tested method of diagnosis and is very useful for exploring the internal organs when a stomach ulcer is suspected.
A stomach ulcer may be suspected if a person frequently passes blood in their stool, vomits blood, has a gnawing or burning sensation in the chest or abdomen, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, bloating, waterbrashing (flood of saliva following regurgitation), chronic acid reflux, or when a person experiencing any of these symptoms tests positive for h. pylori bacteria, regardless of the presence of H pylori symptoms.
People with gastritis (swelling of the stomach lining) are also especially at risk of developing stomach ulcers.
Why Endoscopy and Diagnosing Stomach Ulcers is Important
Even though less than half of the people who have stomach ulcers seek treatment, stomach ulcers can pose significant health risks over time – even to otherwise healthy individuals.
The first formidable result of long-term stomach ulcers is stomach cancer. Over time, stomach ulcers can become malignant. As cells are damaged over a long period of time, they are at risk of mutation.
Mutation to cancer is when the DNA in a cell starts telling the cell to divide and multiply when normally it wouldn’t. Once we reach a certain stage of development, these cells are supposed to stop replicating. Enlarging the stomach lining can cause organ dysfunction, which is how cancer becomes lethal in most cases. People who have a family history of cancer are especially at risk of this outcome.
Stomach ulcers can also cause perforations in the stomach or duodenum in case of a duodenal ulcer. A perforation occurs when a stomach ulcer has been active for so long that the acids in the stomach erode a hole completely through the mucous layer, exposing the delicate tissues beneath and, in some cases, the body cavity to gastric acids.
The structures outside of the stomach lining are not protected by the same type of mucous lining that helps prevent stomach ulcers. This condition in which gastric acids leek into the body cavity is known as chemical peritonitis and is a medical emergency that must be treated immediately.
People who are over 45, have a history of acid production problems and stomach ulcers are the most at risk of developing perforations.
Any sudden pain in the breastbone, stomach, or upper abdomen should be cause to seek emergency medical care. As the stomach acids spread, the pain will spread. This is because the gastric acids are significantly eroding surrounding tissues that may include the lungs and all other digestive organs.
What to Expect during an Endoscopy
To view the inside of the stomach, doctors use a special tool called an endoscope that is inserted directly into the stomach. An endoscope is a small camera and a light source attached to one end of a thin tube. The camera might be a lens or a bundle of fiber-optic leads.
This tube is inserted through the mouth and gently fed down the throat and into the stomach. Since the endoscope tube is usually made to be flexible and outfitted with controls on the end that the doctor will hold, he or she can turn the camera to view all parts of the stomach.
The camera’s images are usually displayed on a screen in the same room that the procedure takes place to allow doctors to see the lesions we know as stomach ulcers, but some endoscopes utilize and eyepiece through which the doctor views the inside of the stomach.
In cases where a doctor is unsure of the reason for a stomach ulcer discovered through the procedure, the endoscopy may include a tissue sample. During this procedure, known as a biopsy, a doctor cuts away a very small portion of tissue so that is can be closely examined under a microscope.
This is accomplished with the help of a small cutting tool in the thin tube, just like the camera. Some endoscopic cameras are equipped with biopsy extraction tools and others have a special space through which the tool can be inserted.