Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori in patients with erosive oesophagitis in comparison with asymptomatic subjects.
Design: Hospital based case-control study.
Methods: Two hundred and nineteen consecutive patients with erosive oesophagitis diagnosed over 2 years were studied. Patients with secondary gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, prior H. pylori eradication therapy, PPI or antibiotics were excluded and two case groups were formed: (1) patients with oesophagitis alone (OEA), and (2) patients with oesophagitis and concomitant peptic ulcer disease (OE&PUD). H. pylori was assessed by antral and corpus mucosa histology and the rapid urease test. Age- and sex-matched controls, who underwent voluntary screening for H. pylori by the 13C-urea breath test, had neither symptoms nor a history of upper gastrointestinal disease.
Results: The 130 patients in the OEA group had a prevalence of H. pylori of 38.5% compared with 75.6% in the 41 patients in the OE&PUD group and 88.5% in a subgroup of the latter with duodenal ulcer (26 patients). Infected and non-infected cases showed no significant differences in terms of grade of oesophagitis and incidence of Barrett's oesophagus. The prevalence of H. pylori infection in OEA was similar to that found in matched controls. In OE&PUD the relative risk of H. pylori infection was 3.6-fold higher than in controls [P = 0.0069, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.401-9.195].
Conclusion: The prevalence of H. pylori in oesophagitis without PUD is similar to that of the asymptomatic population with no history of upper gastrointestinal disease. When oesophagitis and PUD occur together, the infection rate is within the range found in PUD alone.