Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

In order to detect an ulcer, you may have to undergo diagnostic tests, such as:

Tests for H. pylori

Your doctor may recommend tests to determine whether the bacterium H. pylori is present in your body. Tests can test for H. pylori using your:

  • Blood
  • Breath
  • Stool

Which type of test you undergo depends on your situation.

For the breath test, you drink or eat something that contains radioactive carbon. H. pylori breaks down the substance in your stomach. Later, you blow into a bag, which is then sealed. If you're infected with H. pylori, your breath sample will contain the radioactive carbon in the form of carbon dioxide.

Using a scope to examine your upper digestive system (endoscopy)

During endoscopy, your doctor passes a hollow tube equipped with a lens (endoscope) down your throat and into your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Using the endoscope, your doctor looks for ulcers.

If your doctor detects an ulcer, small tissue samples (biopsy) may be removed for examination in a lab. A biopsy can also identify the presence of H. pylori in your stomach lining.

Your doctor is more likely to recommend endoscopy if you are older, have signs of bleeding, or have experienced recent weight loss or difficulty eating and swallowing.

X-ray of your upper digestive system

Sometimes called a barium swallow or upper gastrointestinal series, this series of X-rays creates images of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. During the X-ray, you swallow a white liquid (containing barium) that coats your digestive tract and makes an ulcer more visible.

Jul. 26, 2013

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