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Peptic Ulcers That Don't Heal

Most ulcers heal. This is especially true since the introduction of proton pump inhibitors, the ability to test for and cure Helicobacter pylori infections, and efforts to lower the ulcer risk from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). But some peptic ulcers do not heal (intractable ulcers). Healing is more difficult if you are taking NSAIDs, including aspirin. If your ulcer is not healing, your doctor may have you stop using these medicines.

In rare cases, surgery may be needed if an ulcer does not heal. But some people who have this surgery continue to have ulcer symptoms even though they no longer have an ulcer. The continuing symptoms probably are caused by the stomach and small intestine becoming more sensitive. The cause of this sensitivity or irritability is often hard to find. Additional surgery often makes the problem worse. A detailed exam by a specialist usually is needed to find a cause and begin an effective treatment for these symptoms.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
Last Revised January 4, 2012

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