Initial management strategies for dyspepsia Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: This review considers management strategies (combinations of initial investigation and empirical treatments) for dyspeptic patients. Dyspepsia was defined to include both epigastric pain and heartburn. OBJECTIVES: To determine the effectiveness, acceptability, and cost effectiveness of the following initial management strategies for patients presenting with dyspepsia: (a) Initial pharmacological therapy (including endoscopy for treatment failures). (b) Early endoscopy. (c) Testing for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori )and endoscope only those positive. (d) H. pylori eradication therapy with or without prior testing. SEARCH STRATEGY: Trials were located through electronic searches and extensive contact with trialists. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised controlled trials of dyspeptic patients presenting in primary care. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were collected on dyspeptic symptoms, quality of life and use of resources. An individual patient data meta-analysis of health economic data was conducted MAIN RESULTS: Twenty-five papers reporting 27 comparisons were found. Trials comparing proton pump inhibitors (PPI) with antacids (three trials) and histamine H2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs) (three trials), early endoscopy with initial acid suppression (five trials), H. pylori test and endoscope versus usual management (three trials), H. pylori test and treat versus endoscopy (six trials), and test and treat versus acid suppression alone in H. pylori positive patients (four trials), were pooled. PPIs were significantly more effective than both H2RAs and antacids. Relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were; for PPI compared with antacid 0.72 (95% CI 0.64 to 0.80), PPI compared with H2RA 0.63 (95% CI 0.47 to 0.85). Results for other drug comparisons were either absent or inconclusive. Initial endoscopy was associated with a small reduction in the risk of recurrent dyspeptic symptoms compared with H. pylori test and treat (OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.58 to 0.96), but was not cost effective (mean additional cost of endoscopy US$401 (95% CI $328 to 474). Test and treat may be more effective than acid suppression alone (RR 0.59 95% CI 0.42 to 0.83). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Proton pump inhibitor drugs (PPIs) are effective in the treatment of dyspepsia in these trials which may not adequately exclude patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). The relative efficacy of histamine H2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs) and PPIs is uncertain. Early investigation by endoscopy or H. pylori testing may benefit some patients with dyspepsia but is not cost effective as part of an overall management strategy.


  • Delaney, Brendan
  • Ford, Alex C
  • Forman, David
  • Moayyedi, Paul
  • Qume, Michelle

publication date

  • October 19, 2005