Zollinger Ellison Syndrome

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a condition in which one or more tumors called gastrinomas form and produce too much of a hormone called gastrin, which can lead to peptic ulcers. Symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen and nausea.

Causes of Zollinger Ellison Syndrome

  • The majority (80%) of gastrinomas are sporadic (random), but 20% to 30% occur in association with a genetic (inherited) disorder called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1).

  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is very rare, and occurs most often in men aged 25 to 50.

Symptoms of Zollinger Ellison Syndrome

  • Pain in your upper abdomen.

  • Bloating and burping.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux (backup of stomach contents into the esophagus [food tube] that causes pain or a burning feeling).

  • Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Steatorrhea (fatty stools).

Diagnosis of Zollinger Ellison Syndrome

  • Blood tests to look for abnormal levels of gastrin.

  • Imaging tests, such as a specialized ultrasound called EUS, CT scan, MRI imaging test, or a specialized scan called somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (sometimes called an Octreotide scan).

  • Upper endoscopy - A physician uses an endoscope (a long, thin, flexible instrument with a camera) to examine the inside of the upper digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach and first portions of the small intestines.

Treatment of Zollinger Ellison Syndrome

  • Medication - Drugs called proton pump inhibitors reduce the production of stomach acid and help heal ulcers.

  • Surgery to remove gastrinomas.

  • Chemotherapy - Anticancer drugs to shrink gastrinomas and lower the levels of gastrin in the blood.

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