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Gastrointestinal Disorders - Glossary

Acid-related diseases: digestive tract diseases depending on the presence of gastric acid.
Antisecretory agent: pharmacological substance able to reduce acid secretion by the stomach.

Colonoscopy/rectoscopy: test of the inner surface of the bowel. Performed by using an optical fibre instrument which is inserted into the anus and it allows to explore the rectum and the colon. Permits tissue removal for microscopic analysis (biopsy). Useful in the diagnosis of most large intestine diseases.

Dyspepsia: term including any alteration of the digestive function.
Dysphagia: difficulty in swallowing.

Eradication of Helicobacter pylori/Eradicating therapy: total elimination of the bacterium by antibiotic treatment.

Gastroscopy: test of the inner surface of the stomach, performed with an optical fibre instrument which is inserted through the mouth and explores the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. Permits removal of tissue fragments for microscopic examination.

Haematemesis: vomiting of blood which may appear bright red or dark and blackish.
Helicobacter Pylori: bacterium causing chronic gastritis and associated with most cases of duodenal and gastric ulcer.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: functional intestinal disorder, characterised by abdominal pain and stool alterations (constipation, diarrhoea or alternation of the two).

Melena: emission of dark stools like peat, due to blood content.

Oesophageal Ph-metry: test of the acidity values of the oesophagus. Useful in the diagnosis of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Oesophagitis: inflammation of the oesophagus.

Pyrosis: burning sensation usually reported behind the sternum (flat chest bone), generally linked to the back-flow of acid material from the stomach to the oesophagus.

Reflux: back-flow of material, e.g. flow of acid from the stomach to the oesophagus.

Ulcer: loss of tissue of well-defined borders in the deepest layers of the stomach and duodenum. Generally due to an inflammatory process.
Urea Breath Test: test allowing diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection by collecting the air expelled by the lungs. Performed after drinking of a special urea-containing solution, and widely used for verifying the efficacy of Helicobacter pylori-eradicating treatments.

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