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Perforated Duodenal Ulcer Claims

Perforated Duodenal Ulcer Claims

If medical professionals failed to diagnose your duodenal ulcer and it then perforated, you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. Contact us today to find out more.

Duodenal ulcers

The duodenum is part of the small intestine. It is attached to the stomach and is responsible for digesting the food we eat. To achieve this, the food in the duodenum is mixed with acid (from the stomach) and enzymes (from the pancreas). The acid can be corrosive, so the lining of the duodenum produces a type of mucous that protects it from harm.

If there is not enough mucous, the acid will burn a hole in the lining of the duodenum. This break in the protective lining is known as a duodenal ulcer or a peptic ulcer. This will only happen if the balance between the mucous and the acid is upset, something which might arise due to:

  • A bacterial infection (caused by the H. pylori bacteria); or
  • Excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Diagnosing a duodenal ulcer

A duodenal ulcer is associated with the following symptoms:-

  • Pain in the upper abdomen. It will usually be worse before eating meals or when hungry;
  • A bloated abdomen;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Indigestion;
  • Loss of appetite.

A patient who presents with these symptoms should be suspected of having a duodenal ulcer, particularly if he/she is taking NSAIDs or has a history of gastro-intestinal ulcers. A diagnosis can be confirmed with:-

1. A gastroscopy, which involves passing a thin flexible tube with a camera attached to the end through the gullet and into the duodenum. This is usually the investigation of choice for patients who have been taking NSAIDs.

2. A blood, stool and urea breath test. These investigations will be required if a patient is thought to have the H. pylori infection.

Even before a diagnosis has been confirmed, a patient can be started on medication as a precautionary measure. This will ensure that the ulcer (if present) does not get any worse.

Perforated duodenal ulcer

If a duodenal ulcer is not treated, the acid will continue to burn away at the lining until a hole develops. This is known as a perforated duodenal ulcer. It is a very serious complication as the contents of the duodenum will spill into the abdominal cavity, causing a severe infection called peritonitis. This will make a patient critically unwell and can even be fatal.

If a duodenal ulcer perforates because medical professionals fail to diagnose and treat a patient in a timely fashion, there will be a case of medical negligence. Any reasonably competent medical practitioner should recognise the symptoms of a duodenal ulcer and appreciate the need to carry out further tests, and provide immediate treatment. A failure to do so will amount to a substandard level of medical care, for which a patient deserves to be compensated.

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