The aim of this study was to determine the effect of Helicobacter pylori eradication on the natural history of duodenal ulcer disease, and to determine the incidence of reinfection in adult patients where H pylori had been eradicated in a community with a high prevalence of the infection. An investigator blinded study, with 24 month endoscopic follow up, in subjects where H pylori had been eradicated, and similarly treated subjects where it had not been eradicated was conducted at a tertiary referral hospital. The patients consisted of a volunteer sample of 48 patients with endoscopically proved active duodenal ulcer disease. Duodenal ulcers were healed with omeprazole, 20 mg/day. After endoscopically confirmed healing, patients were treated with either one (17 patients) or two weeks (31 patients) of 'triple therapy'. H pylori status (urease reaction, histological tests, and culture of antral biopsy specimens) was determined at entry, four weeks after the finish of triple therapy and six, 12, and 24 months after this, or whenever an endoscopically proved recurrent duodenal ulcer was found. The main outcome measures were the recurrence of duodenal ulceration, over 24 months in the eradicated and non-eradicated groups and the incidence of reinfection by H pylori in the eradicated group during this follow up period. Five patients in the eradicated group experienced a duodenal ulcer relapse, of which only three were unexplained (1 = reinfected, 1 = gastrinoma). Fifteen of 21 patients in the non-eradicated group relapsed over the same period (p < 0.001). Only two of 27 patients in the eradicated group were reinfected during the 24 month follow up period. It is concluded that H pylori eradication is an effective treatment strategy for the longterm treatment of duodenal ulcer disease, even in the high prevalence, African setting. Reinfection is uncommon.
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