Peptic ulcers—open sores or lesions in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (upper small intestine)—are quite common and can cause pain that disrupts your life. At NewYork-Presbyterian, our digestive care specialists take a team approach to treating peptic ulcers. They offer a range of diagnostic methods and medical interventions, as well as innovative surgical procedures to relieve your symptoms and restore your quality of life.
Your Peptic Ulcer Team
Your care team includes gastroenterologists, surgeons, nurses, registered dietitians, and others with the compassion and skills to care for people with peptic ulcers and other stomach problems. They provide diagnostic testing to determine if your stomach pain is due to an ulcer, including x-ray visualization of your digestive tract with barium swallow and examination of your stomach and esophagus using esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Your team also conducts blood, breath, and stomach tissue tests to look for the presence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) a bacterial infection that causes the vast majority of peptic ulcers. Armed with the results of these tests, your team customizes a plan of treatment that meets your needs.
Medication and Lifestyle Changes to Treat Peptic Ulcers
Treatment for stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers with a combination of antibiotics is typically the first line of therapy if your ulcer is caused by H. pylori. Other treatments for peptic ulcer may include:
- Lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking and reducing caffeine consumption can reduce ulcer symptoms. A registered dietitian can also teach you how to avoid foods that cause irritation. If you regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS, which can aggravate peptic ulcers), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, we may advise you to reduce your dose or switch to a medication that does not cause stomach irritation.
- Medications. Your doctor may prescribe acid-reducing drugs such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, and drugs such as such as Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate), Carafate (sucralfate), or misoprostol (Cytotec) to protect your stomach from the effects of acid.
Peptic Ulcer Surgery
If your ulcer persists despite medication and lifestyle changes, we may recommend surgery. Surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian are highly skilled at procedures to treat peptic ulcers, using minimally invasive laparoscopy whenever possible to perform:
- Vagotomy. This procedure involves cutting parts of the vagus nerve to interrupt the signals your brain sends to your stomach to make stomach acid, thereby reducing acid secretion.
- Antrectomy. The surgeon removes the lower part of your stomach (antrum), which produces a hormone that stimulates digestive juices.
- Pyloroplasty. During this procedure, which your surgeon may perform in combination with vagotomy, the opening into the duodenum and small intestine (pylorus) are enlarged to allow contents to pass more freely from the stomach.