Aims: To investigate the course of dyspeptic symptoms, predictors of symptom relief and use of antidyspeptic drugs in patients with duodenal ulcer disease and functional dyspepsia 6-7 years after successful Helicobacter pylori eradication.
Patients and methods: Patients with H. pylori-positive duodenal ulcer or functional dyspepsia, included in a prospective, randomized study from January 1996 to June 1997, and successfully treated with standard triple therapy, were eligible. After 6-7 years, case histories of 142 patients were retrieved and patients were interviewed by telephone. They were asked about the presence of dyspeptic symptoms and health care needs during the last week and over the last 6-7 years. Predictive factors of complete long-term relief of symptoms have been evaluated.
Results: Of the 114 eligible patients, 104 (49 with duodenal ulcer and 55 with functional dyspepsia) were included in the study. The mean duration of follow up was 6.6+/-0.5 years. Complete relief of dyspeptic symptoms was reported, in this period, by 49.0% of duodenal ulcer patients and 36.4% of patients with functional dyspepsia (P=0.271). Persistence of symptoms within 3 months of H. pylori eradication and female sex were predictive of persistence of symptoms in the following 6-7 years, in patients with functional dyspepsia. In turn, approximately 50% of the patients with complete symptom remission, within 6 months of H. pylori eradication, later became symptomatic. Since the end of the H. pylori eradication trial, 26.9% of patients were still using or had used antidyspeptic drugs; patients with functional dyspepsia having used them more frequently than duodenal ulcer patients (36.4 vs. 16.3%; P=0.037).
Conclusion: In clinical practice, long-term symptomatic benefit, in duodenal ulcer patients, after H. pylori eradication, is similar to that in patients with functional dyspepsia. Early evaluation of symptoms after successful H. pylori eradication may be predictive of outcome in dyspeptic patients. Most symptomatic patients did not seek antidyspeptic drugs. Use of antisecretory medications was, however, greater in patients with functional dyspepsia than in duodenal ulcer patients.