Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

1 What is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome is a rare condition in which a tumor forms in the pancreas or in small intestine called as gastrinoma.

They secrete large amount of hormone called gastrin which in turn causes the stomach to produce more acid.

People are usually diagnosed between the ages of 20-50 years. 

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome include:

  • abdominal pain,
  • diarrhea,
  • burning sensation in the upper abdomen,
  • acid reflux and heartburn,
  • nausea,
  • bleeding in the digestive tract,
  • excessive weight loss,
  • loss of appetite.

3 Causes

The exact cause of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is unknown. This syndrome begins with a tumor in pancreas, duodenum and lymph nodes.

The tumor in this disease leads to secretion of large amounts of gastrin leads to increase amount of HCL in the stomach. This can lead to formation of peptic ulcers.

The tumors can also become malignant and spread to other parts of body.

It can also be an inherited condition. 

4 Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome includes:

  • medical history,
  • blood tests to indicate elevated levels of hormones,
  • upper gastrointestinal endoscopy in which a tube with a camera is inserted,
  • endoscopic ultrasound,
  • imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan and X-ray.

5 Treatment

Treatment for Zollinger-Ellison syndrome includes the following:

Removal of cancer tissue or treating it with medications which includes:

  • Removing as much as the tumor tissue as possible by following methods:
    • removing tumor tissue,
    • destroying tumor tissue by cutting off blood supply,
    • amputation,
    • injecting drugs,
    • using chemotherapy and transplant.
  • Treatment of excess acid: it is achieved by medications such as proton pump inhibitors. Most commonly used medications are lansoprazole and omeprazole. These medications have side effects such as fractures of hip, wrist and spine.  

6 Risks and Complications

You are in increased risk of Zollinger Ellison syndrome if you have sibling or parent with this condition.

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