Diagnosis of Peptic Ulcer Disease

Diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease involves taking a medical and family history and performing a physical examination and diagnostic tests. In most cases, an upper GI series and an upper endoscopy are performed to diagnose PUD.

In an upper GI series, the patient drinks a contrast solution (e.g., barium) and a series of x-rays are taken of the upper gastrointestinal tract (i.e., the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine). The contrast solution produces clearer images of the lining of the GI tract and helps the physician detect ulcers.

Upper endoscopy involves passing a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera attached through the throat and into the stomach and upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum). Upper endoscopy, which is performed under sedation, allows the physician to visualize the lining of the GI tract and detect ulcers. During this procedure, a small piece of tissue can be removed for microscopic evaluation (called a biopsy).

Once a diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease has been made, other laboratory tests (e.g., breath tests, blood tests, stool tests) are performed to determine if the condition is caused by bacteria (e.g., Helicobacter pylori).

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 11 Mar 2008

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2015