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Radiation Colitis
(ray-dee-AY-shun koh-LY-tis)

Damage to the colon from radiation therapy.

Radiation Enteritis
(ray-dee-AY-shun en-tuh-RY-tis)

Damage to the small intestine from radiation therapy.

Radionuclide Scans
(RAY-dee-oh-NOO-clyd skanz)

Tests to find GI bleeding. Radioactive material is injected to highlight organs on a special camera. Also called scintigraphy (sihn-TIHG-ruh-fee).

Rapid Gastric Emptying
(RAH-pid GAH-strik EM-tee-ying)

See Dumping Syndrome.

Rectal Manometry
(REK-tul muh-NAW-muh-tree)

A test that uses a thin tube and balloon to measure pressure and movements of the rectal and anal sphincter muscles. Usually used to diagnose chronic constipation and fecal incontinence.

Rectal Prolapse
(REK-tul PRO-laps)

A condition in which the rectum slips so that it protrudes from the anus.


The lower end of the large intestine, leading to the anus.


A condition that occurs when gastric juices or small amounts of food from the stomach flow back into the esophagus and mouth. Also called regurgitation.

Reflux Esophagitis
(REE-fluks uh-SAW-fuh-JY-tis)

Irritation of the esophagus because stomach contents flow back into the esophagus.

Regional Enteritis
(REE-juh-nul en-tuh-RY-tis)

See Crohn’s Disease.


See Reflux.


Dry vomiting.


The most common cause of infectious diarrhea in the United States, especially in children under age 2.


A break or tear in any organ or soft tissue.


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A mixture of water, protein, and salts that makes food easy to swallow and begins digestion.


A bacterium that may cause intestinal infection and diarrhea. See also Gastroenteritis.


A condition that causes small, fleshy swellings in the liver, lungs, and spleen.

Schatzki’s Ring
(SHAHTS-keez ring)

See Lower Esophageal Ring.


See Radionuclide Scans.


A method of stopping upper GI bleeding. A needle is inserted through an endoscope to bring hardening agents to the place that is bleeding.


A hormone made in the duodenum. Causes the stomach to make pepsin, the liver to make bile, and the pancreas to make a digestive juice.


The process by which muscles in the intestines move food and wastes through the body.


Infection with the bacterium Shigella. Usually causes a high fever, acute diarrhea, and dehydration. See also Gastroenteritis.

Short Bowel Syndrome
(short BAH-wul sin-drohm)

Problems related to absorbing nutrients after removal of part of the small intestine. Symptoms include diarrhea, weakness, and weight loss. Also called short gut syndrome.

Short Gut Syndrome

See Short Bowel Syndrome.

Shwachman’s Syndrome
(SHWAHK-munz sin-drohm)

A digestive and respiratory disorder of children. Certain digestive enzymes are missing and white blood cells are few. Symptoms may include diarrhea and short stature.

Sigmoid Colon
(SIG-moyd KOH-lun)

The lower part of the colon that empties into the rectum.


Looking into the sigmoid colon and rectum with a flexible or rigid tube, called a sigmoidoscope.

Sitz Bath
(SITS bath)

A special plastic tub. A person sits in a few inches of warm water to help relieve discomfort of hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

Small Bowel Enema
(smal BAH-wul EN-uh-muh)

X-rays of the small intestine taken as barium liquid passes through the organ. Also called small bowel follow-through. See also Lower GI Series.

Small Bowel Follow-Through
(smal BAH-wul FAH-loh-throo)

See Small Bowel Enema.

Small Intestine
(SMAL in-TES-tinz)

Organ where most digestion occurs. It measures about 20 feet and includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

Solitary Rectal Ulcer
(SAH-luh-tair-ee REK-tul UL-sur)

A rare type of ulcer in the rectum. May develop because of straining to have a bowel movement.


A hormone in the pancreas. Somatostatin helps tell the body when to make the hormones insulin, glucagon, gastrin, secretin, and renin.


Muscle movements such as those in the colon that cause pain, cramps, and diarrhea.

Spastic Colon
(SPAH-stik KOH-lun)

See Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).


A ring-like band of muscle that opens and closes an opening in the body. An example is the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach known as the lower esophageal sphincter.

Sphincter of Oddi
(SFEENK-tur uv AH-dee)

The muscle between the common bile duct and pancreatic ducts.


The organ that cleans blood and makes white blood cells. White blood cells attack bacteria and other foreign cells.

Splenic Flexure
(splen-IK Flex-er)

The sharp 90-degree bend of the colon under the spleen where the transverse colon joins the descending colon.

Splenic Flexure Syndrome
(SPLEN-ik FLEK-shur sin-drohm)

A condition that occurs when air or gas collects in the upper parts of the colon. Causes pain in the upper left abdomen. The pain often moves to the left chest and may be confused with heart problems.

Squamous Epithelium
(SKWAH-mus eh-pih-THEE-lee-um)

Tissue in an organ such as the esophagus. Consists of layers of flat, scaly cells.


A condition in which the body cannot absorb fat. Causes a buildup of fat in the stool and loose, greasy, and foul bowel movements.


See Fatty Liver.


An opening in the abdomen that is created by an operation (ostomy). Must be covered at all times by a bag that collects stool.


The organ between the esophagus and the small intestine. The stomach is where digestion of protein begins.

Stomach Ulcer
(STUH-muk UL-sur)

An open sore in the lining of the stomach. Also called gastric ulcer.


The solid wastes that pass through the rectum as bowel movements. Stools are undigested foods, bacteria, mucus, and dead cells. Also called feces.

Stress Ulcer
(STRES UL-sur)

An upper GI ulcer from physical injury such as surgery, major burns, or critical head injury.

Stricture Stricture

The abnormal narrowing of a body opening. Also called stenosis. See also Esophageal Stricture and Pyloric Stenosis.


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Taeniae coli or Teniae coli
(TAY-kee-uh KOH-ly)

Any of three external longitudinal and ribbonlike muscle bands of the large intestine.


Straining to have a bowel movement. May be painful and continue for a long time without result.

Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)
(TOH-tul puh-REN-tuh-rul noo-TRISH-un)

See Parenteral Nutrition.

Tracheoesophageal Fistula (TEF)
(TRAY-kee-oh-uh-SAW-fuh-JEE-ul FIST-yoo-luh)

A condition that occurs when there is a gap between the upper and lower segments of the esophagus. Food and saliva cannot pass through.

Transverse Colon
(TRANZ-vurs KOH-lun)

The part of the colon that goes across the abdomen from right to left.

Traveler’s Diarrhea
(TRAV-lurz dy-uh-REE-uh)

An infection caused by unclean food or drink. Often occurs during travel outside one’s own country. See also Gastroenteritis.

(TRIH-pul THEH-ruh-pee)

A combination of three medicines used to treat Helicobacter pylori infection and ulcers. Drugs that stop the body from making acid are often added to relieve symptoms.

Tropical Sprue
(TRAH-pih-kul sproo)

A condition of unknown cause. Abnormalities in the lining of the small intestine prevent the body from absorbing food normally.

Tube Feeding
(TOOB feeding)

See Enteral Nutrition.


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A sore on the skin surface or on the stomach lining.

Ulcerative Colitis
(UL-sur-ay-tuv koh-LY-tis)

A serious disease that causes ulcers and irritation in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. See also Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Upper GI Endoscopy
(UH-pur jee-eye en-DAW-skuh-pee)

Looking into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with an endoscope. See also Endoscopy.

Upper GI Series
(UH-pur jee-eye SEE-reez)

X-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The patient swallows barium first. Barium makes the organs show up on x-rays. Also called barium meal.

Urea Breath Test
(yoo-REE-uh breth test)

A test used to detect Helicobacter pylori infection. The test measures breath samples for urease, an enzyme H. pylori makes.


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An operation to cut the vagus nerve. This causes the stomach to make less acid.

Vagus Nerve
(VAY-gus nurv)

The nerve in the stomach that controls the making of stomach acid.


A fold in the lining of an organ that prevents fluid from flowing backward.


Stretched veins such as those that form in the esophagus from cirrhosis.


A word made from the first letters of a group of birth defects. It is used when all of these birth defects affect the same child. The birth defects are Vertebral defects, Anal malformations, Tracheoesophageal fistula, Esophageal atresia, and Renal defects.

Villi Villi

The tiny, fingerlike projections on the surface of the small intestine. Villi help absorb nutrients.

Viral Hepatitis
(VY-rul heh-puh-TY-tis)

Hepatitis caused by a virus. Five different viruses (A, B, C, D, and E) most commonly cause this form of hepatitis. Other rare viruses may also cause hepatitis. See Hepatitis.

Viral Hepatitis

Type of Hepatitis Mode of Transmission
Hepatitis A
  • Contaminated food and water.
Hepatitis B
  • Sexual intercourse.
  • Sharing infected needles.
Hepatitis C
  • Sexual intercourse.
  • Sharing infected needles.
Hepatitis D
  • Must have hepatitis B.
  • Found mainly in intravenous drug users.
Hepatitis E
  • Contaminated water from poor sanitation.


A twisting of the stomach or large intestine. May be caused by the stomach being in the wrong position, a foreign substance, or abnormal joining of one part of the stomach or intestine to another. Volvulus can lead to blockage, perforation, peritonitis, and poor blood flow.


The release of stomach contents through the mouth.


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Watermelon Stomach
(WAH-tur-MEH-lun STUH-muk)

Parallel red sores in the stomach that look like the stripes on a watermelon. Frequently seen with cirrhosis.

Wilson’s Disease
(WIL-sunz duh-zeez)

An inherited disorder. Too much copper builds up in the liver and is slowly released into other parts of the body. The overload can cause severe liver and brain damage if not treated with medication.

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Dry mouth. The condition can be caused by a number of things, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, kidney failure, infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), drugs used to treat depression, and radiation treatment for mouth or throat cancer.


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Zenker’s Diverticulum
(ZEN-kurz dy-vur-TIK- yoo-lum)

Pouches in the esophagus from increased pressure in and around the esophagus.

Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome
(ZAH-lun-jur EL-uh-sun sin-drohm)

A group of symptoms that occur when a tumor called a gastrinoma forms in the pancreas. The tumor, which may cause cancer, releases large amounts of the hormone gastrin. The gastrin causes too much acid in the duodenum, resulting in prednisone ulcers, bleeding, and perforation.

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