Review article: 'true' re-infection of Helicobacter pylori after successful eradication--worldwide annual rates, risk factors and clinical implications

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Jan;29(2):145-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2008.03873.x. Epub 2008 Oct 20.


Background: The incidence of 'true' re-infection with Helicobacter pylori after successful eradication remains uncertain.

Aim: To determine the worldwide rates, risk factors and clinical implications of 'true' re-infection of Helicobacter pylori. 'True' re-infection of H. pylori is defined as the situation where tests for H. pylori infection, which were negative for 12 months after eradication, become positive again at a later stage.

Results: Thirty six studies were identified through a literature search to be able to produce annual rates of 'true' re-infection, and data from 33 original articles were considered reliable and adequate in the further review. Generally, the reported rates varied from 0% to 23.4% in adults and from 1.9% to 9.6% in children. Most studies from developed countries reported rates of less than 1%, whereas relatively higher rates were reported in most of the developing countries. Small sample sizes included in the studies appeared to be associated with increased re-infection rates. Interfamilial transmission is the major cause of re-infection, although iatrogenic re-infection through contaminated endoscopic equipment has been reported.

Conclusion: Helicobacter pylori re-infection is not a concern in a clinical setting, especially in the developed world; however, caution must be exercised in most developing countries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors