Duodenal ulcer is an open sore on the lining of the duodenum, the first portion of the small intestine.
Duodenal ulcers most commonly occur in patients taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) or in people infected with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
Duodenal ulcers may be complicated by bleeding, perforation (a hole through the wall of the intestine) or stricture formation (a narrowing).
Patients with an ulcer often complain of a burning or gnawing pain in the upper abdomen, especially after eating. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting or bleeding (vomiting blood or passing black or bloody stools).
Duodenal ulcers can be diagnosed by x-rays or by passing a flexible tube through the mouth into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum to directly visualize the lining of the duodenum (an endoscopy).
Duodenal ulcers are easily treated by medications that reduce acid production. Patients with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection should also receive antibiotic therapy to eliminate the infection from the stomach, as this will reduce the risk of ulcer recurrence.