(vomiting of blood) and
a medical emergency. Chronic bleeding
may cause iron-deficiency
ly, an ulcer may perforate the wall of the
digestive tract and lead to
An ulcer is usually diagnosed by an
of the stomach and duode-
num; less commonly, a barium meal (see
barium X-ray examination)
Tests will be carried out to see whether
the individual is infected with the
bacterium. If this is the case,
a combination of
will be given. A further test
may be done to check that treatment
has been successful. If
not detected - for example, in ulcers
(NSAIDs) - treatment is with
ton pump inhibitors
the NSAIDs will be stopped. Surgery is
now rarely needed for peptic ulcers,
except to treat complications such as
bleeding or perforation.
peptide A protein fragment consisting
of 2 or more
consist of many linked amino acids are
known as polypeptides; chains of poly-
peptides are called
. In the
body, peptides occur in forms such as
perception The interpretation of a sen-
sation. Information is received through
the 5 senses (taste, smell, hearing, vis-
ion, and touch) and organized into a
pattern by the brain. Factors such as
attitude, mood, and expectations affect
the final interpretation.
are false perceptions that occur in the
absence of sensory stimuli.
percussion A diagnostic technique in-
volving tapping the chest or abdomen
with the fingers and listening to the
sound produced to deduce the condi-
tion of the internal organs. (See also
percutaneous A medical term meaning
through the skin.
perforation A hole made in an organ
or tissue by disease or injury.
peri- A prefix meaning around.
under the skin around the anus.
pericarditis Inflammation of the
, which often leads to chest pain
and fever. There may also be an increased
amount of fluid (
) in the pericar-
dial space, which may restrict the heart.
Long-term inflammation can cause con-
strictive pericarditis, a condition in which
the pericardium becomes scarred, thick-
ens, and contracts, interfering with the
Causes of pericarditis include infection;
; cancer spreading
from another site; and injury to the
pericardium. The disorder may accom-
Pericarditis causes pain behind the
breastbone, and sometimes in the neck
and shoulders. There may also be fever.
Constrictive pericarditis causes
of the legs and abdomen.
Diagnosis is made from a
. If possible, treat-
ment is aimed at the cause.
be given. If an effusion is present, fluid
may be drawn off through a needle. In
constrictive pericarditis, part of the peri-
cardium may be removed.
pericardium The membranous bag that
and the roots of the
major blood vessels that emerge from
it. The pericardium has 2 layers separat-
ed by a space called the pericardial
space, which contains a small amount
of fluid that lubricates the heart.
STRUCTURE OF HEART