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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Glossary of Heartburn Terms

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Risk factor: A characteristic or event that predisposes a person to a certain condition.

Sliding hernia: The most common type of hiatal hernia that occurs when the lower esophagus and the upper stomach slide into the chest cavity through an opening, or hiatus, in the diaphragm. Heartburn and acid reflux may be caused by a sliding hernia.

Small intestine: The portion of the intestinal tract that first receives food from the stomach. It is divided into three sections: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. As food travels through the small intestine it is further broken down by enzymes, and nutrients from the food are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Sphincter: See lower esophageal sphincter.

Stomach: A sac-like organ with muscular walls that holds, mixes, and grinds food. The stomach secretes acid and enzymes that continue the process of breaking down the food.

Stomach (gastric) cancer: Disease in which cancer cells are found in the lining of the stomach. Stomach cancer can develop in any part of the stomach and may spread throughout the stomach to other organs. Frequently caused by a bacterial infection called H.pylori.

Swallowing problems: Swallowing and esophageal disorders may be temporary, or they may be an indication of a serious medical problem. Swallowing disorders have many causes, including nerve and muscle problems, head and neck injuries, and cancer, or they may occur as the result of a stroke. Most are not related to serious problems and can be treated with medications.

Trocar: A sharp, pointed instrument used to make a puncture incision in the abdominal wall. Used for placement of cannulas.

Ultrasound: A test used to diagnose a wide range of diseases and conditions in which high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear, are transmitted through body tissues. The echoes vary according to the tissue density. The echoes are recorded and translated into video or photographic images that are displayed on a monitor.

Upper endoscopy: A test used to evaluate the upper digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. During the test, a thin scope with a light and camera at its tip (endoscope) is used to examine the inside of the upper digestive tract.

Vomiting: The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth which usually occurs with symptoms of nausea. Vomiting is not a disease but a symptom of many conditions.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on September 02, 2014

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