The effectiveness of screening and treating Helicobacter pylori in the management of dyspepsia Academic Article uri icon

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  • AIMS: (1) To investigate the effects of a Helicobacter pylori screening and treatment strategy on open access endoscopy referral rates in dyspeptic patients aged < 40 years. (2) To determine the effectiveness of an H. pylori screening and treatment strategy, compared with endoscopy, in reducing dyspeptic symptoms, and in the utilization of dyspepsia related health care in general practice. SUBJECTS: Subjects were dyspeptic patients aged < 40 years, who were not taking NSAIDs and were without sinister symptoms. Patients were referred by their general practitioners. METHODS: The proportion of endoscopies carried out in patients aged < 40 years during the 5 years before the introduction of a screening and treatment strategy was compared with the proportion 2 years afterwards, as determined in a retrospective audit. Dyspepsia scores were obtained from unselected endoscopy patients and those who received a 13C-urea breath test (13C-UBT) at their initial visit and 6 months later. The number of visits made by patients with dyspepsia to their GPs, as well as the number of prescriptions given for antisecretory drugs, during the 6 months before attending for investigation were compared, in the same patient groups, with the same variables during the 6 months after the investigation. RESULTS: There was a 37% reduction in open access endoscopies performed in patients aged < 40 years (95% CI, 34-40%) following the introduction of the 13C-UBT service. Six months after attending the 13C-UBT service there was a significant fall in dyspepsia score (15.5 +/- 7.4 to 7.2 +/- 7.0, P < 0.0001), general practice dyspepsia consultations (2.0 +/- 1.3 to 1.0 +/- 1.7, P < 0.0001), H2 receptor antagonist prescription (14.2 +/- 32.6 tablets to 6.7 +/- 25.6 tablets, P = 0.006) but not proton pump inhibitor prescription (6.9 +/- 21.9 tablets to 7.2 +/- 27.6 tablets, P = 0.90). These changes were not significantly different from those found in the open access endoscopy control patients. CONCLUSIONS: An H. pylori screening and treatment strategy reduces the endoscopy workload in young dyspeptic patients. This strategy appears to be as effective as endoscopy in reducing dyspepsia symptoms, dyspepsia consultation rates and the prescribing of anti-secretory drugs.


  • Moayyedi, Paul
  • Zilles, Anke
  • Clough, Michael
  • Hemingbrough, Elaine
  • Chalmers, Douglas M
  • Axon, Anthony TR

publication date

  • November 1999