Distal Duodenum Symptoms & Treatment

Written by alexander kennard
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Distal Duodenum Symptoms & Treatment
There are a number of conditions that can affect the distal duodenum. (woman to hurt image by haruspex from Fotolia.com)

The distal duodenum is a section of the intestine, rather than a condition that has symptoms and can be treated. It is the first section of the small intestine, connected to the stomach. The term distal refers to the section of the duodenum that is furthest away from the heart, the bottom three centimetres. There are a number of conditions that affect the distal duodenum, including coeliac disease, a duodenal ulcer, Crohn's disease, stomach cancer and duodenal atresia.

Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is a genetic disorder that causes damage to the small intestine, including the distal duodenum, due to a sensitivity to gluten. Gluten is usually found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. As the small intestine becomes damaged, it begins to lose the ability to absorb nutrients from food, meaning that the patient will begin to suffer malnutrition. Coeliac disease can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, depression, pale and foul-smelling stool, fatigue and discoloured teeth. No cure has been found for coeliac disease, and the only treatment for the disorder is a gluten-free diet. A tissue sample is often taken from the distal duodenum to test for coeliac disease.

Duodenal Ulcer

A duodenal ulcer develops in the lining of the duodenum, sometimes in the distal section. It is a raw section of the lining that can cause great pain. Duodenal ulcers occur when stomach acids burn away at the lining of the duodenum. Duodenal ulcers can cause stomach pain, heartburn, a burning sensation in the back of the throat and weight gain. You may experience discomfort for a few hours after eating, especially after drinking or eating citrus, coffee or aspirin. A bleeding ulcer may cause red vomit. Duodenal ulcers can be treated by antibiotics, antacids and a medication that forms a barrier over the ulcer called sucralfate.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is an inflammation of the small intestine. It usually occurs in the end of the small intestine, but may also affect the distal duodenum in rare cases. Crohn's disease can cause rectal bleeding, diarrhoea, weight loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, joint pain and skin lesions. The University of Maryland medical centre states that Crohn's disease cannot be cured, but that maintaining a healthy diet and prescription anti-inflammatory drugs such as aminosalicylates can help to ease the symptoms.

Stomach Cancer

As the name suggest, stomach cancer usually affects the stomach. However, it can occasionally appear in the distal duodenum. Stomach cancer causes bloating, a loss of appetite, fatigue, abdominal pain, indigestion, heartburn, and vomiting. You may find blood in the vomit and the stool. Stomach cancer treatments include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, exposing the tumour to radiation and anti-cancer drug sessions, called chemotherapy.

Duodenal Atresia

Duodenal atresia is when the distal duodenum has not developed properly. The distal duodenum cannot allow food through as it is not open. It occurs in infants and causes early vomiting, vomiting that can occur despite not being fed for several hours and a lack of urination and bowel movements. The condition of the infant can be kept healthy by providing hydration and nutrition through tubing, and surgery to open the distal duodenum should cure the condition.


You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the symptoms connected with disorders of the distal duodenum.

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