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Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) remains a prevalent, worldwide, chronic infection. Though the prevalence of this infection appears to be decreasing in many parts of the world, H. pylori remains an important factor linked to the development of peptic ulcer disease, gastric malignanc and dyspeptic symptoms.
Whether to test for H. pylori in patients with functional dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), patients taking nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, with iron deficiency anemia, or who are at greater risk of developing gastric cancer remains controversial. H. pylori can be diagnosed by endoscopic or nonendoscopic methods. A variety of factors including the need for endoscopy, pretest probability of infection, local availability, and an understanding of the performance characteristics and cost of the individual tests influences choice of evaluation in a given patient.
Testing to prove eradication should be performed in patients who receive treatment of H. pylori for peptic ulcer disease, individuals with persistent dyspeptic symptoms despite the test-and-treat strategy, those with H. pylori-associated MALT lymphoma, and individuals who have undergone resection of early gastric cancer.
Recent studies suggest that eradication rates achieved by first-line treatment with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), clarithromycin, and amoxicillin have decreased to 70–85%, in part due to increasing clarithromycin resistance. Eradication rates may also be lower with 7 versus 14-day regimens. Bismuth-containing quadruple regimens for 7–14 days are another first-line treatment option. Sequential therapy for 10 days has shown promise in Europe but requires validation in North America.
The most commonly used salvage regimen in patients with persistent H. pylori is bismuth quadruple therapy. Recent data suggest that a PPI, levofloxacin, and amoxicillin for 10 days is more effective and better tolerated than bismuth quadruple therapy for persistent H. pylori infection, though this needs to be validated in the United States.