Reducing the endoscopic workload: does serological testing for Helicobacter pylori help?

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1999 Aug;11(8):857-62.


Objective: Serological screening for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in young (< or = 45 years) dyspeptic patients has been used to avoid oesophago-gastro-duodenoscopy (OGD). We used serology to identify seronegative and seropositive patients without sinister symptoms and combined approaches of avoiding OGD in both groups. We aimed to determine the reduction of OGD in this group.

Design: Prospective study on the treatment of 232 patients with dyspepsia.

Setting: Six hundred and fifty bed district general hospital serving rural Northamptonshire, UK.

Interventions: Two hundred and thirty-two patients referred by local general practitioners for OGD were offered serology. Symptom severity was scored using a questionnaire. One hundred and eleven seronegative patients received symptomatic treatment, 105 seropositive patients received triple therapy for 1 week. Sixteen patients with equivocal results were offered OGD. Patients were followed up after 6 months.

Main outcome measures: Severity of dyspepsia symptoms and proportion of patients returning for OGD.

Results: Fifteen equivocal patients underwent OGD, one refused. Forty-six patients (33 seronegative, 13 seropositive) had persisting symptoms and underwent OGD. Mean symptom severity was reduced significantly in equivocal (P<0.01), seronegative (P<0.001) and seropositive (P<0.001) patients. Fewer seronegative patients were symptom-free at follow up compared to seropositive patients (n = 15 (16%) vs n = 48 (51%); P<0.001), 171 patients avoided OGD, a 74% reduction.

Conclusions: Use of H. pylori serology in the management of young dyspeptic patients without sinister symptoms can reduce the OGD workload by 74%, decreasing the length of time that older patients, who are at greater risk of malignant disease, may have to wait for OGD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dyspepsia / diagnosis*
  • Dyspepsia / microbiology
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal*
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / blood
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications
  • Helicobacter Infections / enzymology
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter pylori / immunology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Prospective Studies
  • Serologic Tests*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urease / metabolism
  • Workload*


  • Urease