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Glossary of Heartburn Terms


Endoscopy: A procedure that uses a lighted flexible instrument that allows the doctor to see the inside of the digestive tract. The device, called an endoscope, can be passed through the mouth or through the anus, depending on which part of the digestive tract is being examined. This method is referred to by different names depending on the area being examined, such as: esophagoscopy (esophagus), gastroscopy (stomach), upper endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)(for the esophagus, stomach, first part of the small intestine), sigmoidoscopy (lower part of the large intestine), and lower endoscopy or colonoscopy (entire large intestine).

Enzyme: A protein that speeds up a chemical reaction. See gastric enzymes.

24-hour Esophageal pH test: A test used to measure the pH or amount of acid that flows into the esophagus from the stomach during a 24-hour period. It is also used to determine the effectiveness of medications that are given to patients to prevent acid reflux.

Esophageal manometry test: A test used to measure the strength and muscle coordination of the esophagus.

Esophageal ulcer: A sore or erosion of the lining of the esophagus generally caused by excessive exposure to acid.

Esophagitis: An inflammation, irritation, or ulceration of the lining of the esophagus. This injury is often caused by the excessive exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid. Other causes of esophagitis include fungal and bacterial infections.

Esophagus: The tube-like structure that connects the mouth to the stomach and acts as a passageway for food. This organ is one of several that make up the digestive system.

Fats: Substances that help the body use some vitamins and keep the skin healthy. They are also one of the main ways the body stores energy.

Fluoroscopy: A continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body. The technique allows the doctor to observe how an organ performs its normal function; for example, how the esophagus works during swallowing.

Fundoplication: A procedure that involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter (the ring of muscle that opens and closes to allow food into the stomach) to create a band that prevents stomach acids from backing up.

Fundus: Upper part of the stomach.

Gallbladder: A pear-shaped reservoir that sits just under the liver. It stores and concentrates bile. During a meal, the gallbladder contracts, sending bile to the duodenum to help absorb and digest fats.

Gastric: Pertaining to the stomach.

Gastric enzymes: Term often used to describe all the digestive enzymes, which are substances in the stomach and digestive system that break down food. Pepsin is an enzyme in the stomach that breaks down proteins. Lipase is an enzyme produced by the pancreas that breaks down fats in the duodenum. Amylase is also produced by the pancreas and breaks down starch. Maltase, sucrase, and lactase are other enzymes secreted in the small intestine to convert certain sugars.

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