Purpose: To determine the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia and ulcer disease as well as in a control population undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for suspected pancreatic or biliary disease.
Patients and methods: Forty-six eligible patients undergoing upper endoscopy at Massachusetts General Hospital were studied over a period of 18 months, as well as 24 patients undergoing ERCP for presumed pancreatic or biliary disease. Two biopsy specimens from the fundus and two from the antrum were taken for microbiologic and histopathologic analysis. Sera were examined by enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay. All specimens were processed in a blind fashion. Chi-square test with Yates' correction was used for statistical analysis.
Results: H. pylori was found in 31 of 46 (67%) study patients and in six of 24 (25%) control patients (by microbiologic or histologic techniques) (p less than 0.01). H. pylori was found in all patients with peptic ulcer disease and in 60% of patients without ulcers. No association between H. pylori and any specific gastrointestinal symptom was observed. H. pylori was identified in the fundus as often as in the antrum, although in the antrum the organism was more often associated with histologic gastritis. Compared with histology, serologic assays for IgG and IgA antibodies to H. pylori had sensitivities of 100% and 94%, and specificities of 86% and 76%, respectively. Reexamination of selected specimens without knowledge of their identity revealed that the specificity of serology exceeded 94% while the sensitivity of histologic and microbiologic studies may have been closer to 80%.
Conclusions: H. pylori was more common in dyspeptic patients than in our control subjects undergoing ERCP. Multiple biopsy sites from fundus and antrum are required to exclude infection. Serologies of IgG and IgA were sensitive and specific for H. pylori, suggesting a possible role for non-endoscopic diagnosis of this infection. The frequent association of H. pylori with active inflammation rather than with quiescent gastritis is consistent with a pathologic role of this organism.