Controlled trial of maintenance cimetidine treatment in healed duodenal ulcer: short and long-term effects.
Forty-two patients with endoscopically diagnosed duodenal ulcer were studied in a double-blind trial after their ulcers had been healed with cimetidine. Cimetidine was effective in preventing relapse, only five of the 20 patients allocated to cimetidine 400 mg twice daily relapsing during the six months' treatment, compared with 16 of the 22 on placebo treatment (P less than 0.01). Cimetidine was safe in the dosage and duration used, no symptomatic, haematological, or biochemical abnormalities occurring during the trial. Subsequent follow-up at the end of the trial when treatment had been stopped showed that relapse was frequent, particularly in the cimetidine group, making the cumulative relapse rate eight months after completion of the trial similar in the two groups (75% in the cimetidine group, 86% in the placebo group). It seems likely that maintenance cimetidine treatment has to be continued indefinitely in patients with duodenal ulcer, and, until such treatment is shown to be safe and effective, surgical treatment remains a logical option for many patients.