Ulcers are a defect in the lining of the digestive tract. The most common places for ulcers to occur are in the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The duodenum is the part of the small intestine just beyond the stomach. Most duodenal ulcers are associated with a bacterial infection called Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori. The use of aspirin and other pain medications called NSAIDs can also play a role in duodenal ulcers.
Duodenal ulcers may be silent or be associated with pain in the upper abdomen. Classically, the pain gets better with the intake of food. Nausea and voming can also occur with ulcer. Duodenal ulcers can cause bleeding if the ulcer disrupts a blood vessel. In the worst cases, an ulcer can cause a perforation into the abdominal cavity.
Duodenal ulcers can be diagnosed during upper endoscopy. An upper endoscopy entails a doctor examining the esophagus, stomach and duodenum with a camera on the end of a flexible tube. Bleeding ulcers can also be treated using upper endoscopy.
Duodenal ulcers can be treated medically with use of acid suppressor drugs and the treatment of H. pylori infection. This typically consists of between 7 and 14 days of a combination of antibiotics and acid suppressor medication.