Hunner's ulcers, also called "Hunner’s lesions" or "Hunner's patches," are a subtype of interstitial cystitis (also called IC) and are not ulcers in the usual sense. They are distinctive areas of inflammation on the bladder wall that characterize the “classic” form of IC. Hunner’s ulcers are the one diagnostic feature that clinches the IC diagnosis, but this “classic” form of IC affects only about 5 to 10 percent of patients. Often, patients with this form of IC have more severe symptoms than patients with nonulcerative IC.
To check for Hunner’s ulcers, your doctor will perform a procedure called cystoscopy. The physician uses a cystoscope to look inside your bladder.
It is important to note that Hunner's ulcers are different from glomerulations, which are also often present in IC patients. Glomerulations are pinpoint-sized areas of bleeding in the bladder wall. Unlike Hunner's ulcers, glomerulations do not automatically lead to a diagnosis of IC.
Treating Hunner’s ulcers themselves can reduce symptoms significantly. Your physician will use one of these procedures:
- Fulguration: "burning off" the ulcers by using a special instrument with a heated tip or a laser technique.
- Resection of ulcers: cutting around and removing the ulcers from the bladder wall.
- Submucosal injection: injecting a steroid (triamcinolone or Kenalog) into the ulcer. Although still being researched, this procedure can be safer and may prove to be as effective as the other two.
All these procedures are done while you are under general or spinal anesthesia.
Revised August 17, 2012