Zollinger Ellison Syndrome

Zollinger Ellison Syndrome (ZES) was first described by Edwin Ellison and Robert Zollinger in the year 1955. Soon, further researches were conducted with regards to this disorder in hope for effective treatment for it.

Zollinger Ellison Syndrome Fact Tidbits

  1. It is a rare disorder which is characterized by tumors referred to as gastrinomas. These gastrinomas typically develop in the duodenum or pancreas.
  2. There is a great similarity between ZES symptoms and that of peptic ulcer.
  3. It is typical for doctors to conduct ZES diagnosis by measuring the stomach acid and amount of gastrin circulating in the blood.
  4. It is possible for ZES treatment to use chemotherapy.
  5. Anyone can be inflicted with ZES but it more common among men under the age group of 30 to 50 years old or those who have inherited multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1.

Zollinger Ellison Syndrome Causes

ZES cause is attributed to gastrinomas which releases the gastrin hormone, a hormone needed by the stomach in digestion.

Normally, gastrin is produced in controlled amount such that it travels through the bloodstream in order to send signal to other cells for the release of gastric acid that will help break down the food consumed by the body.

Unfortunately, patients with Zollinger Ellison Syndrome encounter excessive production of gastrin which results to excessive gastric acid in the stomach which results to gastrinomas in the duodenum and the pancreas.

However, there are certain cases wherein gastrinomas appears sporadically. In this special instances, scientists are still at lost on what could possible trigger such growth and development of these gastrinomas.


Photo by : wikipedia

Recently, studies have lead to link with the Zollinger Ellison Syndrome. 25% of those who suffer from ZES syndromes have another thing in common they have inherited a genetic disorder referred to as multiple endocrine neoplasia type

  1. This disorder triggers the release of certain hormone releasing tumors like insulinomas and prolactinomas which dictate the brain to produce unnecessary hormones.

Zollinger Ellison Syndrome Symptoms

There is a very big similarity between ZES symptoms and that of peptic ulcer. These symptoms are as follow: diarrhea, weight loss, burning abdominal pain, severe gastroesophageal reflux, and nausea and vomiting.

In some instances, patients may also experience a sensation of fullness, bloating or pressure accompanied by pain which develops approximately 30 to 90 minutes after taking a meal. However, this abdominal pain is often relieved by taking antacids.

Vomits of patients with Zollinger Ellison Syndrome are accompanied by blood or particles that quite resemble coffee grounds. As for the burning pain and gnawing in the abdomen experienced by the patient, it affects areas between the navel and the breastbone. If you experience any of these and these are combined with sudden weight loss, fatigue and weakness then there is a big possibility that these are ZES symptoms.

Zollinger Ellison Syndrome Diagnosis

The following tests are conducted in order to identify the cause of the pain experienced by suspected individuals with Zollinger Ellison Syndrome.

  • Barium X-Ray
  • Calcium Infusion Test
  • Upper Endoscopy
  • Gastrin Blood Level Test
  • Octreotide Scan
  • Secretin Stimulation Test
  • Imaging Technique like CT scan, MRI scan, ultrasound and nuclear scan.

Results from these tests will be analyzed and compared with the symptoms suffered by the patient.

Zollinger Ellison Syndrome Treatment

Surgery is the most common recommended treatment for Zollinger Ellison Syndrome especially for ZES gastrinoma types. Nevertheless, if surgical treatment is not applicable then the following alternative treatment may be performed in order to help destroy the gastrinomas.

  1. Embolization or cutting off the blood supply from these areas;
  2. Radio frequency ablation or the use of electric current as an attempt to get rid of the cancer cells;
  3. Chemotherapy for the slow down of the tumor growth; and
  4. Injectible drugs to help relieve the patient from cancer symptoms.

For Zollinger Ellison Syndrome with accompanied ulcer problems the following medications may be prescribed by doctors:

Acid Blockers

This will help reduce the production of gastric and gastric acid in the stomach. Medication drugs include Tagamet, Zantac, Axid and Pepcid.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

These acts as effective medication that will help suppress acid production while promoting faster healing of the stomach linings. This inhibitors include Protonix, Prilosec, Asiphex, Prevacid and Nexium.

Zollinger Ellison Syndrome Prognosis

Based on statistical report, ZES prognosis involves 50% of Zollinger Ellison Syndrome tumors to be cancerous. Thus, early diagnosis of this condition is the best preventive measure in order to halt the danger of gastrinoma spread in the stomach, duodenum and pancreatic walls.

Health Complications Associated with Zollinger Ellison Syndrome

The following complications may arise if the patient is not treated promptly.

  1. severe diarrhea and weight loss
  2. continuous spread of the tumar cells to other organs in the body like the lymph nodes and the liver
  3. intestinal bleeding
  4. hole perforation

If you feel any of the specified ZES symptoms mentioned above, it is highly recommended that you go consult with your physician so as to avoid the further spread of these complication which may aggravate your condition.


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