Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a gastrointestinal condition in which your body produces too much of a hormone called gastrin. Too much gastrin in the body typically leads to excessive production of stomach acid, which in turn can lead to conditions like heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux. If you’re dealing with stomach discomfort or acid reflux, it’s worth paying a visit to your primary care physician or your gastrointestinal specialist. Although your issues may be caused by a different underlying issue, we’re going to take a closer look at how treatment will proceed if you’re diagnosed with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Zollinger-Ellison Causes And Symptoms
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and excessive gastrin production are typically caused by the presence of a tumor known as a gastrinoma somewhere along the digestive tract. Typically these tumors form in the pancreas or the small intestine, and their presence can lead to high levels of gastrin. When high levels of gastrin exist, your body may begin to overproduce stomach acid.
Symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome or excessive stomach acid include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Acid reflux
- Stomach ulcer formation
If you’re dealing with any of these symptoms, it’s imperative that you set up an appointment with a gastrointestinal specialist as soon as possible, because these gastrinomas deserve immediate attention. Roughly one-half to two-thirds of gastrinomas are cancerous and can spread to other areas of your body, including your pancreas and brain. Treatment success likelihood is greatly connected to finding the issue at an early stage before it can spread to more problematic locations.
Diagnosing And Treating Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome
If your gastrointestinal specialist believes that you may be dealing with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome or wants to look for other gastrointestinal issues, they’ll talk with you about your symptoms before progressing to some additional imaging tests. Some of the most common tests to look for excessive stomach acid or Zollinger-Ellison syndrome are an abdominal CT scan, an endoscopic ultrasound, a calcium infusion test or blood tests to look for elevated levels of gastrin.
If you’re diagnosed with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, your gastrointestinal specialist will walk you through your treatment options. Drugs called proton pump inhibitors can help to reduce stomach acid production and relieve uncomfortable symptoms or stomach ulcers. If the growths have not spread or are benign, they will likely be removed with a minimally invasive surgical procedure. If the tumor has spread or cannot be safely removed, treatment will focus on managing the discomfort caused by the excessive levels of gastrin. Gastrinomas tend to be very slow-growing and patients can live for many years after they have been found, even if surgical treatment is unlikely to cure the issue.
For more information about gastrointestinal issues or managing uncomfortable stomach symptoms, reach out to the team at Bhatti Surgery today at (952) 368-3800.