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Review
, 113 (6 Suppl), S163-6

What Remaining Questions Regarding Helicobacter Pylori and Associated Diseases Should Be Addressed by Future Research? View From North America

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Review

What Remaining Questions Regarding Helicobacter Pylori and Associated Diseases Should Be Addressed by Future Research? View From North America

J W Freston. Gastroenterology.

Abstract

Several areas regarding Helicobacter pylori that need improvement or clarification in the United States include treatment of dyspepsia, physician education on disease associations with H. pylori, and evidence from U.S. studies that 7-day H. pylori eradication regimens are more effective than current regimens. Dyspepsia, a ubiquitous condition in the United States, is routinely managed on the basis of a positive H. pylori serology without other investigations. This approach has been fostered by cost-effectiveness studies of various approaches to duodenal ulcer and dyspeptic patients. Serology-directed therapy was the most cost-effective option vs. endoscopy-directed management. The option of not obtaining endoscopy had broad appeal to primary care physicians. In addition, a recent survey suggests that even gastroenterologists routinely attempt H. pylori eradication in infected patients with nonulcer dyspepsia, despite a number of negative efficacy studies. Finally, the option of not eradicating a World Health Organization-defined carcinogen in the litigious United States is unappealing to clinicians. Eradication of H. pylori in patients with dyspepsia despite more negative trials is likely to continue. There is evidence that U.S. physician awareness of the H. pylori-disease associations and the best therapies are improving rapidly, but further improvement is needed. Discrepancy of awareness of H. pylori between gastroenterologists and family physicians exists. In a recent survey, 94% and 72% of gastroenterologists regarded H. pylori as a causative agent in duodenal and gastric ulcer, respectively, vs. 68% and 68% of family physicians, and only 9% of family physicians believed there was a definite relationship between H. pylori infection and gastric cancer vs. 21% of gastroenterologists. One hundred three different H. pylori regimens were being used; 31% of family physicians and 11% of gastroenterologists used ineffective regimens or regimens of unknown effectiveness. Although 1-week proton pump inhibitor triple therapy is promising, there is skepticism that U.S. studies will yield the optimistic results that have characterized the European studies. Unlike in Europe, the U.S. standard is to use double diagnostics to prove eradication rather than just the urea breath test and to use intent-to-treat rather than assessable patient analyses. Both approaches reduce apparent eradication rates.

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