Thirty two patients with Helicobacter pylori positive duodenal ulcers resistant to treatment were randomly assigned to 4 weeks' treatment with sucralphate 4 g/day or colloidal bismuth subcitrate 480 mg/day plus amoxycillin from days 1 to 7 and tinidazole from days 8 to 14. After 4 weeks, patients with unhealed ulcers were crossed over to the other form of treatment for a further 4 week period. Patients with healed ulcers were followed up for 1 year without maintenance therapy with clinical and endoscopic investigations 3, 6, and 12 months after healing. Complete healing rates at 4 weeks were 88% (15 of 17) in the colloidal bismuth subcitrate plus antibiotics group and 40% (six of 15) in the sucralphate group (p < 0.05). After cross over, overall healing rates were 88% (22 of 25) and 47% (eight of 17), respectively (p < 0.05). H pylori eradication occurred in 83% of patients treated with the triple therapy. Cumulative relapse rates at 12 months were 12% (two of 17) in patients in whom H pylori had been eradicated and 100% (10 of 10) in those with persistent infection after short term therapy (p < 0.05). These results show that a colloidal bismuth subcitrate plus antibiotics regimen is highly effective in the short term treatment of resistant duodenal ulcers and that H pylori eradication can change the natural tendency to early recurrence of these ulcers.
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