ulcer

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ulcer,

open sore or circumscribed erosion, usually slow to heal, on the skin or mucous membranes. It may develop as a result of injury; because of a circulatory disturbance, e.g., in varicose veins or after prolonged bed rest; or in association with such diseases as tuberculosis, syphilis, or leprosy. Corneal ulcers, which result from infection, allergy, or foreign objects in the eye, can cause visual impairment if not treated promptly. Some ulcers may develop into cancer. The underlying cause must be treated as well as the ulcerous lesion.

Peptic ulcer occurs in the mucous membrane of the intestinal tract. An estimated 90% of peptic ulcers are caused by infection with a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, strains of which promote the formation of ulcers by causing an inflammtory response in the cells of the stomach wall, making it more susceptible to the hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach. Most commonly, it occurs in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or at the beginning of the small intestine (duodenal ulcer, the most common form) and causes abdominal pain, especially between meals.

Infection with the H. pylori bacterium, which is also associated with some stomach cancer, is very common, but not all strains promote the formation of ulcers. Approximately 50% of those over 60 in developed countries are infected; in developing countries the infection rate is much higher, and infection usually occurs earlier in life. Experts are as yet uncertain how the bacterium is spread. Around 20% of those infected develop ulcers. Peptic ulcer is found more frequently in men. Heavy aspirin or ibuprofen use and smoking increase the risk of ulcer development.

The connection of H. pylori infection with peptic ulcer was made in the early 1980s by Australian scientists Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren. It previously was believed that peptic ulcers were caused by emotional stress, though since the early 1900s researchers had reported finding curved bacteria in the stomachs of dead patients with ulcers more often than in those without ulcers. Marshall and Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2005 for their work. Treatment changed accordingly and now typically consists of antibiotics (such as clarithromycin or amoxicillin) plus metronidazole (Flagyl) and bismuth subsalicylate (e.g., Pepto-Bismol). For the relief of symptoms, drugs such as ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), and omeprazole (Prilosec) may also be used. Hemorrhage or perforation of peptic ulcers requires emergency medical treatment.

The full set of genes (genome) of H. pylori was determined in 1997. This achievement will help researchers design new drugs to treat and prevent diseases caused by the bacterium.

Ulcer

 

a defect in the skin or mucous membrane resulting from tissue necrosis. Ulcers are frequently chronic in course and nonhealing, for example, trophic ulcers of the skin. They may be caused by prolonged mechanical (friction, pressure), thermal, chemical, and other actions on tissues, as well as by trophic disturbances of the nervous system, specific and nonspecific infections (tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy, typhoid), and decomposition of a tumor. The development of an ulcer may also be fostered by metabolic disorders (for example, diabetes mellitus), chronic poisoning, vitamin deficiency, endocrinous disturbances, and exhaustion.

Ulcers vary in shape (round, oval, stellate), depth, and size. The base of an ulcer may be covered by granulations, a purulent deposit, or necrotic tissue. Deeply penetrating ulcers are dangerous because they destroy the walls of blood vessels and cause hemorrhages. If the course of the disease is favorable, the regenerative process is dominant and scarring occurs; however, recurrences are possible.

Treatment is directed toward curing the main disease. Physical therapy and any one of a variety of topical ointments and dressings may be prescribed. Surgery is required in refractory cases.

R. B. KAVTELADZE

ulcer

[′əl·sər]
(medicine)
Localized interruption of the continuity of an epithelial surface, with an inflamed base.

ulcer

a disintegration of the surface of the skin or a mucous membrane resulting in an open sore that heals very slowly
References in periodicals archive ?
In addition to clinical testing for diabetic plantar ulcers, these cost-effective therapeutic agents are being tested for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and prevention of hair loss.
NASDAQ-NMS: PRCY) today announced new clinical evidence that drug treatment initiated at the start of a standard wound care regimen enhances the healing of diabetic plantar ulcers.
The data, which has been accepted for presentation at an international scientific conference, was derived from ProCyte's Phase II clinical trial, believed to be the largest single wound healing drug study of diabetic plantar ulcers reported to date.
According to ProCyte spokesperson Karen Hedine, expenditures for the three- and six-month periods ending June 30, 1993, related primarily to the company's continuing research and development activities for its drug candidates to treat diabetic plantar ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease and promote hair growth.
The conference marked the first national medical association presentation of ProCyte's multicenter placebo-controlled Phase II clinical results in which investigational Iamin was used to treat diabetic plantar ulcers.
The company reported earlier that treatment of all diabetic plantar ulcers with 2 percent Iamin led to a mean percent healed of 73 percent, compared to 10 percent for the placebo group.
According to ProCyte spokesperson Karen Hedine, planned expenditures for the three months ended March 31, 1993, related primarily to continuing research and development of ProCyte's drug candidates for hair growth and chronic dermal wounds, including the company's start-up costs for its Phase III clinical trial of ProCyte's flagship drug candidate, Iamin, for treatment of diabetic plantar ulcers.