Know more about Esophageal, Peptic Ulcer & Pancreas Surgeries

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Know more about Esophageal, Peptic Ulcer & Pancreas Surgeries


The esophagus is the hollow, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue, including mucous membrane, muscle, and connective tissue. Esophageal cancer starts on the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it grows.

  • Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the esophagus.
  • Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and Barrett esophagus can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer are weight loss and painful or difficult swallowing.
  • Tests that examine the esophagus are used to detect (find) and diagnose esophageal cancer.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and Barrett esophagus can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors include the following:

  • Tobacco use.
  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Barrett esophagus: A condition in which the cells lining the lower part of the esophagus have changed or been replaced with abnormal cells that could lead to cancer of the esophagus. Gastric reflux (heartburn) is the most common cause of Barrett esophagus.
  • Older age.


Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine. They’re usually formed as a result of inflammation caused by the bacteria H. pylori, as well as from erosion from stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem.

There are three types of peptic ulcers:

  • gastric ulcers: ulcers that develop inside the stomach
  • esophageal ulcers: ulcers that develop inside the esophagus
  • duodenal ulcers: ulcers that develop in the upper section of the small intestines, called the duodenum
Causes of peptic ulcers

Different factors can cause the lining of the stomach, the esophagus, and the small intestine to break down. These include:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a type of bacteria that can cause a stomach infection and inflammation
  • frequent use of aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil), and other anti-inflammatory drugs (risk associated with this behavior increases in women and people over the age of 60)
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • radiation therapy
  • stomach cancer
Symptoms of peptic ulcers

The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is burning abdominal pain that extends from the navel to the chest, which can range from mild to severe. In some cases, the pain may wake you up at night. Small peptic ulcers may not produce any symptoms in the early phases.

Other common signs of a peptic ulcer include:

  • changes in appetite
  • nausea
  • bloody or dark stools
  • unexplained weight loss
  • indigestion
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
How to treat a peptic ulcer

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your ulcer. If tests show that you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will prescribe a combination of medication. You’ll have to take the medications for up to two weeks. The medications include antibiotics to help kill infections and proton pump inhibitors(PPIs) to help reduce stomach acid.

You may experience minor side effects like diarrhea or an upset stomach from antibiotic regimens. If these side effects cause significant discomfort or don’t get better over time, talk to your doctor.

If your doctor determines that you don’t have an H. pylori infection, they may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter PPI (such as Prilosec or Prevacid) for up to eight weeks to reduce stomach acid and help your ulcer heal.

Acid blockers like ranitidine (Zantac) or famotidine (Pepcid) can also reduce stomach acid and ulcer pain. These medications are available as a prescription and also over the counter in lower doses.

Your doctor may also prescribe sucralfate (Carafate) which will coat your stomach and reduce symptoms of peptic ulcers.


Pancreas Surgeries

Types of surgery to remove pancreatic cancer

There are several different operations for pancreatic cancer. They involve removing all or part of the pancreas, and sometimes other areas around it.

Your surgeon will discuss with you the best type of surgery for you. This will depend on where the cancer is in the pancreas.

Whipple’s operation (pancreaticoduodenectomy or PD)

The Whipple’s operation is one of the most common types of surgery for pancreatic cancer. It’s usually used for tumours in the head of the pancreas that haven’t spread beyond the pancreas.

The surgeon will remove the head of the pancreas. They also remove:

  • The lower end of the stomach
  • The duodenum (first part of the small intestines)
  • The gall bladder (which stores a fluid called bile which helps digestion)
  • Part of the bile duct (which carries bile from the liver to the duodenum)
  • Surrounding lymph nodes (part of the immune system).

They then attach the remaining part of the stomach and bile duct to the small intestines. The pancreas is attached to the small intestines or to the stomach.

This diagram shows the parts of the body to be removed by a Whipple’s operation

This diagram shows the pancreas and surrounding organs after a Whipple’s operation

As part of your pancreas is removed during a Whipple’s operation, your digestion will be affected, and you will probably need to take pancreatic enzyme supplements. There is also a risk of getting diabetes.

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