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Effect of proton pump inhibitors on the detection of Helicobacter pylori in gastric biopsies.

Dickey, W ; Kenny, B D ; McConnell, J B ;
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    BACKGROUND: Proton pump inhibitors are known to decrease the activity of Helicobacter pylori organisms within the stomach and to shift their distribution proximally. This effect may reduce the sensitivity of histological examination and rapid urease testing for H. pylori on biopsies taken from recommended sites. It is of particular relevance if a proton pump inhibitor has been prescribed before the patient has undergone diagnostic endoscopy. METHODS: We studied patients referred to our open-access upper gastrointestinal endoscopy service who had either been on no medication (controls) or were already taking proton pump inhibitors. Biopsies taken from the gastric antrum and corpus were used for rapid urease testing and for histological examination. Sera, taken from patients who had no evidence of H. pylori in biopsies, were tested for IgG H. pylori antibodies as an alternative indicator of infection. RESULTS: H. pylori organisms were detected by histological examination in 27 of 40 controls (68%) and in 13 of 25 patients taking proton pump inhibitors (52%). Among patients with positive histology (organisms detected in either antral or corpus biopsies, or both), only the sensitivity of the antral urease test read at 1 h was significantly lower in patients taking proton pump inhibitors than in controls, with no significant difference in sensitivities of the antral urease test at 24 h, of the corpus urease test at 1 or 24 h, or of histology from the antrum or corpus. Of patients with negative histology, none of 13 controls compared with six of 12 patients taking proton pump inhibitors (50%) had positive serology (P = 0.005). Five (83%) of the six histology-negative, seropositive patients taking proton pump inhibitors had histological changes consistent with H. pylori gastritis even though no organisms were detected. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with a proton pump inhibitor before endoscopy reduces the sensitivity of antral and corpus biopsies for H. pylori detection, both by urease testing and histological examination. If proton pump inhibitors already prescribed cannot be discontinued for an adequate period before endoscopy, patients should have biopsies taken from the corpus as well as from the antrum, and serum should be tested for H. pylori.


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