Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

Alternative Names

Z-E syndrome; Gastrinoma

Definition of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a condition in which there is increased production of the hormone gastrin. Usually, a small tumor (gastrinoma) in the pancreas or small intestine produces the high levels of gastrin in the blood.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is caused by tumors, usually found in the head of the pancreas and the upper small intestine. These tumors produce the hormone gastrin and are called gastrinomas. High levels of gastrin cause production of too much stomach acid.

Signs and tests

Signs include ulcers in the stomach and small intestine.

Treatment

Medications called proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole, lansoprazole, and others) are now the first choice for treating Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. These drugs reduce acid production by the stomach, and promote healing of ulcers in the stomach and small intestine. They also relieve abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Expectations (prognosis)

Even with early diagnosis and surgery to remove the tumor, the cure rate is relatively low. However, gastrinomas grow slowly, and patients may live for many years after the tumor is discovered. Acid-suppressing medications are very effective at controlling the symptoms of too much acid production.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, Md, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/11/2010

Endocrine glands

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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