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GERD: Esophageal Erosion and Ulcers - Topic Overview

The backup, or reflux, of stomach acids and juices into the esophagus camera.gif that occurs with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can wear away (erode) the lining of the esophagus and cause sores, called ulcers.

GERD is caused when stomach acid and juices reflux into the esophagus. This happens when the valve between the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter) does not close tightly. This reflux can cause irritation, inflammation, or wearing away of the lining of the esophagus, which is called esophagitis.

In severe cases, patches of the lining of the esophagus wear away completely, and ulcers may develop. Ulcers can be shallow or deep and can destroy the lining of the esophagus where they develop.

Treatment for ulcers in the esophagus usually means treating the GERD that caused the ulcer in the first place. Treatment for GERD usually involves one of two options:

  • Medicine. Medicines used to treat GERD include:
  • Surgery. Fundoplication surgery is the most common surgery used to treat GERD. During surgery, the upper curve of the stomach (the fundus) is wrapped around the esophagus and sewn into place so that the lower portion of the esophagus passes through a small tunnel of stomach muscle. This surgery strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter, which stops acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily. This allows the esophagus to heal.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 06, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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