A study of the prevalence of campylobacter pylori in patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms, and an evaluation of various laboratory methods to detect its presence.
Antral mucosal biopsies were examined microbiologically and histologically for the presence of Campylobacter pylori in 224 patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms. One hundred and eighty three (83%) patients were found to harbour Campylobacter pylori in their gastric mucosa. Campylobacter pylori was strongly associated with the presence of histological gastritis (93%) and was detected in only 10% of 30 patients whose gastric biopsies showed normal histology. Endoscopically diagnosed duodenal lesions were more strongly associated with the presence of Campylobacter pylori than were gastric lesions (p<0.001). A variety of laboratory methods were evaluated to determine the sensitivity and specificity to detect the presence of Campylobacter pylori. Histology was the most sensitive and specific method to detect the presence of Campylobacter pylori. Although culture was highly specific, it was less sensitive than histology in detecting Campylobacter pylori in gastric antral mucosal specimens. The "conventional" gastric urease assay, although specific, needs be performed under controlled conditions (37°C) for optimal results. The "one-minute" urease assay was more sensitive than the "conventional" gastric urease assays and was highly specific. ELISA to detect specific-IgG antibodies to Campylobacter pylori was a moderately sensitive non-invasive method to detect Campylobacter pylori infection, but was non-specific.