Objective: In this randomized trial, the authors sought to determine whether eradication of Helicobacter pylori could reduce the risk of ulcer recurrence after simple closure of perforated duodenal ulcer.
Background data: Immediate acid-reduction surgery has been strongly advocated for perforated duodenal ulcers because of the high incidence of ulcer relapse after simple patch repair. Although H. pylori eradication is now the standard treatment of uncomplicated and bleeding peptic ulcers, its role in perforation remains controversial. Recently a high prevalence of H. pylori infection has been reported in patients with perforations of duodenal ulcer. It is unclear whether eradication of the bacterium confers prolonged ulcer remission after simple repair and hence obviates the need for an immediate definitive operation.
Methods: Of 129 patients with perforated duodenal ulcers, 104 (81%) were shown to be infected by H. pylori. Ninety-nine H. pylori-positive patients were randomized to receive either a course of quadruple anti-helicobacter therapy or a 4-week course of omeprazole alone. Follow-up endoscopy was performed 8 weeks, 16 weeks (if the ulcer did not heal at 8 weeks), and 1 year after hospital discharge for surveillance of ulcer healing and determination of H. pylori status. The endpoints were initial ulcer healing and ulcer relapse rate after 1 year.
Results: Fifty-one patients were assigned to the anti-Helicobacter therapy and 48 to omeprazole alone. Nine patients did not undergo the first follow-up endoscopy. Of the 90 patients who did undergo follow-up endoscopy, 43 of the 44 patients in the anti-Helicobacter group and 8 of the 46 in the omeprazole alone group had H. pylori eradicated; initial ulcer healing rates were similar in the two groups (82% vs. 87%). After 1 year, ulcer relapse was significantly less common in patients treated with anti-Helicobacter therapy than in those who received omeprazole alone (4.8% vs. 38.1%).
Conclusions: Eradication of H. pylori prevents ulcer recurrence in patients with H. pylori-associated perforated duodenal ulcers. Immediate acid-reduction surgery in the presence of generalized peritonitis is unnecessary.