Optimal Therapy for Helicobacter pylori Infections
Although Helicobacter pylori infection is both a common and a serious bacterial infection, antimicrobial therapies have rarely been optimized, are prescribed empirically, and provide inferior results compared with antimicrobial therapies for other common infectious diseases. The effectiveness of many of the frequently recommended H. pylori infection treatment regimens has been increasingly compromised by antimicrobial resistance. Regional data on the susceptibility of strains of H. pylori to available antimicrobials are sorely needed. Noninvasive molecular methods are possible to assess clarithromycin susceptibility in isolates obtained from stool specimens. As a general rule, clinicians should prescribe therapeutic regimens that have a ≥90% or, preferably, ≥95% eradication rate locally. If no available regimen can achieve a ≥90% eradication rate, clinicians should use the most effective regimen(s) available locally. Eradication of infection should always be confirmed after treatment in order to provide feedback regarding local effectiveness and an early warning of increasing resistance. In most regions of the world, four-drug treatment regimens, including a PPI plus three antimicrobials (clarithromycin, metronidazole/tinidazole and amoxicillin), or a PPI plus a bismuth plus tetracycline and metronidazole provide the best results. Standard triple therapy (a PPI, amoxicillin and clarithromycin) should now be avoided owing to increasing resistance to this treatment.