Background: Guidelines on the management of Helicobacter pylori, which cover indications for management and treatment strategies, were produced in 2000. Aims: To update the guidelines at the European Helicobacter Study Group (EHSG) Third Maastricht Consensus Conference, with emphasis on the potential of H pylori eradication for the prevention of gastric cancer. Results: Eradication of H pylori infection is recommended in (a) patients with gastroduodenal diseases such as peptic ulcer disease and low grade gastric, mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma; (b) patients with atrophic gastritis; (c) first degree relatives of patients with gastric cancer; (d) patients with unexplained iron deficiency anaemia; and (e) patients with chronic idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Recurrent abdominal pain in children is not an indication for a “test and treat” strategy if other causes are excluded. Eradication of H pylori infection (a) does not cause gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) or exacerbate GORD, and (b) may prevent peptic ulcer in patients who are naïve users of non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). H pylori eradication is less effective than proton pump inhibitor (PPI) treatment in preventing ulcer recurrence in long term NSAID users. In primary care a test and treat strategy using a noninvasive test is recommended in adult patients with persistent dyspepsia under the age of 45. The urea breath test, stool antigen tests, and serological kits with a high accuracy are non-invasive tests which should be used for the diagnosis of H pylori infection. Triple therapy using a PPI with clarithromycin and amoxicillin or metronidazole given twice daily remains the recommended first choice treatment. Bismuth-containing quadruple therapy, if available, is also a first choice treatment option. Rescue treatment should be based on antimicrobial susceptibility. Conclusion: The global burden of gastric cancer is considerable but varies geographically. Eradication of H pylori infection has the potential to reduce the risk of gastric cancer development.
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