Background: The relation between Helicobacter pylori infection and nonulcer dyspepsia is uncertain. We tested the hypothesis that curing the infection will relieve symptoms of dyspepsia.
Methods: We randomly assigned 170 H. pylori-infected patients with nonulcer dyspepsia to receive twice-daily treatment with 20 mg of omeprazole, 1000 mg of amoxicillin, and 500 mg of clarithromycin for 14 days and 167 such patients to receive identical-appearing placebos; all patients were then followed through regular visits for 12 months. Symptoms were scored on diary cards for seven days before each visit. A carbon-13 urea breath test was performed at base line and repeated at 1 and 12 months, and endoscopic biopsy was performed at 12 months to determine H. pylori status. Treatment was considered successful if the patient had only mild pain or discomfort or none at all.
Results: The rate of eradication of H. pylori infection was 90 percent in the active-treatment group and 2 percent in the placebo group at four to six weeks (P<0.001). At 12 months, there was no significant difference between groups in the rate of successful treatment (46 percent in the active-treatment group and 50 percent in the placebo group; relative likelihood of success with active treatment, 0.93; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.73 to 1.18; P=0.56). There was also no significant difference in the rate of successful treatment at 12 months between patients who were H. pylori-negative and those who were H. pylori-positive (48 percent vs. 49 percent). The rates of successful treatment were also similar when patients were analyzed according to the type of dyspepsia (ulcer-like, reflux-like, or dysmotility-like) and changes in the quality of life. There was no significant association between treatment success and histologic improvement in chronic gastritis at 12 months (P=0.68).
Conclusions: We found no evidence that curing H. pylori infection in patients with nonulcer dyspepsia leads to relief of symptoms.