Stomach (Gastric) Ulcer - Diagnosis

What tests are there for a stomach ulcer?

If your doctor thinks you may have a stomach ulcer, the initial tests will include some blood tests. These tests will help to check whether you have become anaemic because of any bleeding from the ulcer. The blood test will also check to see that your liver and pancreas are working properly.

The main tests that are then used to diagnose a stomach ulcer are as follows:

  • A test to detect the H. pylori germ (bacterium) is usually done if you have a stomach ulcer. If H. pylori infection is found then it is likely to be the cause of the ulcer. The H. pylori bacterium can be detected in a sample of stools (faeces), or in a 'breath test', or from a blood test, or from a biopsy sample taken during a gastroscopy. See separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori and Stomach Pain for more details.
  • Gastroscopy (endoscopy) is the test that can confirm a stomach ulcer. Gastroscopy is usually done as an outpatient 'day case'. You may be given a sedative to help you to relax. In this test, a doctor looks inside your stomach by passing a thin, flexible telescope down your gullet (oesophagus). The doctor will then be able to see any inflammation or ulcers in your stomach.
  • Small samples (biopsies) are usually taken of the tissue in and around the ulcer during gastroscopy. These are sent to the laboratory to be looked at under the microscope. This is important because some ulcers are caused by stomach cancer. However, most stomach ulcers are not caused by cancer.

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Author:
Dr Colin Tidy
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
4621 (v44)
Last Checked:
03 February 2015
Next Review:
02 February 2018

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.